Mothers Day and Moby Dick

When I think of Mothers Day and my mother today Sunday May 14, 2023, I predictably think about her excellent mandel bread recipe and her succulent and savory veal osso bocco but also, on occasion her memory reminds me about growing up in a home with books, encyclopedias, newspapers and “proper bedroom lighting”. Reading was encouraged in the family and my Mom believed that everyone should have their own designated desk lamp and “proper wall lighting” for reading in bed. Both my parents were “first in their family” college graduates and as a suburban North Shore Chicago Jewish family I guess they took the “People of the Book” thing (and tennis) somewhat seriously. In fact, once upon a time long long ago i remember thinking even as a hopelessly disorganized, hyperactive and easily distracted kid with undiagnosed ADHD that I wanted to be a “famous writer” like Thoreau …or maybe a successful yet mysterious author (as opposed to a downright reclusive novelist like Salinger) of some wildly popular book on the New York Times best seller list.

Growing up in Highland Park, Illinois, my parents not only had a “mud room” but a combination den/library/study upstairs. The study had a glass topped desk where my Dad spent seemingly endless hours diligently opening the mail and then paying all the bills each night but also a library area with adjustable bookshelves crammed full of both hard and soft back books and encyclopedias galore. Late at night I would swipe books from the study to read in bed, preferably ones I probably wasn’t supposed to read like Candy by Terry Southern or thumb through the 1960 World Book Encyclopedia, either to find something to plagiarize for my still unfinished homework or to check out the creepy transparent pages of the human anatomy section. Who knew that the male gonads (testicles) looked like that if you sliced them wide open like a ripe Georgia peach? My mom, much to my perpetual annoyance would come into my bedroom often unannounced and ask, “Can you read like that?”

I would respond with a monotone “yes” but of course the real answer was no and now I cant see worth shit ….probably from squinting in the dark as well as not staying hydrated and then lying repeatedly about both things. As a result, I now rely on dozens of reading glasses both expensive prescription ones and dollar store variety which I lose on a daily if not hourly basis.

My parents were also daily subscribers of the Chicago SunTimes newspaper which was fine by me because it’s compact book shape design was much easier to hold and turn its pages as a clumsy klutzy kid compared to most other unwieldy big city newspapers. Plus, you could flip the Sun Times daily paper over in one deft move to check all the professional sports scores which in Chicago is a big deal. Da Bears!

The Sunday New York Times, however, was a whole ‘nother mainstream media Moby Dick in plastic wrap kind of paper. It arrived on our paved suburban driveway on weekends by some still unknown method of transportation or teleportation, a massive and wholly intimidating conglomeration of erudite articles, editorials, and assorted magazine supplements. Once lugged into the house like an oversized fireplace log or slumbering paper tiger and released from its multiple layers of plastic wrap, rain protection and rubber bands the entire thing seemed to move and slide about on its own volition as if in a feigned attempt to escape its ravenous Sunday morning readers or after breakfast hide itself on the floor somewhere under the already overburdened living room coffee table.

On Sundays my mother would often make matzah brei with eggs for breakfast or they would order in special deli “lox boxes” with fresh delicatessen bagels and cream cheese. Later on my parents would casually spread out to read the Sunday paper and we would pretend to do the same.

Even today, all these many years later I still consider the Sunday NYT with it’s superb editorials and Book Review magazine to be a pleasant reminder of my 60’s era childhood and a leisure luxury best enjoyed in bed with hot coffee and a fresh pastry of some kind. Like the secret sect of nomadic “book people” in Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, reading the Sunday paper is almost like a print journalism spiritual pilgrimage or a quasi-religious ritual practiced by fewer and fewer endangered species of bibliophiles, or alternatively print media dinosaurs from some long ago pre-digital time in history well before TikTok and texting took over as the apex predators of our social norms and our human brain’s primary dopamine-seeking reward pathways.

Basically my personal reading ritual involves first sorting through the entire NYT pile of papers and immediately throwing out all the annoying ads and so called “fluff” and then lying back down in my bed to read it all…not counting the infamous NYT crossword puzzle that I’ve never ever gotten even close to finishing.

To me the NYT crossword puzzle, something I’ve observed many other otherwise normal looking people do in cafes, on airplanes, commuter trains and city buses was a mind-bending nerve-wracking head spinning exercise in frustration equally impossible to finish as running an ultra marathon or climbing Mt. Everest without oxygen. If you EVER want to feel instantly dumb consider this published fact about the NYT’s crossword…and I quote Google my scholarly source, “the best puzzle people can finish the NYT crossword in 8-12 minutes”. Whaaat? That’s completely insane. I also just now found out that there is a specific word in the english language for people who are good at solving crossword puzzles and that specific word is cruciverbalist. Save that one for a college entrance autobiographical essay or some future game of Scrabble.

Lastly I will now mention a dirty secret I have been keeping to myself. Even tho I talk about the New York Times like I’m some smart smarmy semi-retired Baby Boomer intellectual type who reads voraciously and understands everything about the many books reviewed so eloquently in the NYT magazine to the plethora of beautifully written news articles and editorials about politics, fashion, economics, technology, planetary science, quantum physics not to mention psychology/therapy and neuroscience…actually I hardly ever have the time, inclination or concentration required to finish but a modest few of any of them…if I’m lucky. Normally, the bulk of the NYT Sunday paper minus its annoying ads sits idle on my bedside or dining room table looking slightly disheveled and forlorn while I drive to Lowes to get more brown mulch or back to Publix to get more chicken thighs and the pharmacy prescription I forgot like a dummy earlier. If I am lying in bed I’m more likely doing what most lazy people do in 2023. I’m watching TikTok, checking out who went to Greece on Facebook or Instagram (and pretending to not be jealous) or God forbid I’m watching another totally stupid but addicting Naked and Afraid episode on TV. Dr. pimple Popper is pretty good too. If anything I’m more like the complacent but happy Eloi tribe of the future in my favorite 1960 sci-fi movie The Time Machine “Books? Yes we have books…”. Meanwhile their books are crumbling to dust and they get their news from the “spinning rings”. Cellphone news updates much? There I said it. OK, I gotta go now. It’s Mothers Day and I have to go get the NYTimes from the driveway while looking for my glasses which I think may have fallen off while I was spreading mulch. Happy Mothers Day Mom!

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Is It Over? I’m Afraid to Look

It’s not even noon but I’m starting to get an alarming twinge in my gut about the midterm elections. Not that i know anything about the early vote counts but I am beginning to catch a slight whiff in the air of acrid sweat, anticipatory anxiety, and primal fear. Even my old rescue black lab Harmony appears to smell something amiss when I took her out to pee. She kept sniffing and lifting her grey streaked snout skyward in various directions but especially towards certain key swing states and GOP gerrymandered voting districts here in Florida. These are places for the most part where “higher education” means college football, Fox news and maybe a Tucker Carlson PAC seminar on “Feminism and Falling Sperm Count”. Perhaps Harmony is just smelling a dead seagull or maybe it’s the latest Climate Change inspired Tropical Storm Nicole about to finish off whats left of South Florida’s already crippled coastline and crumbling infrastructure but I dont think so. In fact I wish that was all my trusty mutt and I were tag team spidey-sensing.

Honestly I fear I’m vibing Tolkien-esque Hobbit smoke signals on the far horizon. Call it intuition or delusional paranoia but I believe I may have picked up an almost imperceptible shudder in the ethereal astral plane, a seemingly subtle seismic shift but also quite possibly a dark foreboding and warning signal portending the self congratulatory return of the Evil One, Lord Sauron Trump to Middle Earth. Along with his Orc army of grotesque looking badly dressed MAGA supporters, flag-waving felons and hideous minions like Rudy Giuliani of “melting face fame” and Marjorie Taylor Greene who directly resembles an Orc homecoming drag queen I’m mostly afraid of the Bloated Orange Combover Man.

Even without the Dark Lord’s creepy disembodied flaming eye as an explicit movie spoiler and graphic image of doom there is a dawning disastrous sense within me about the midterm elections going on today as well as the down the line Final Fantasy winner-take-all Presidential election in 2024.

Maybe it’s just my never-ending frustration with the never properly working electronic gates, security system and entry door locks at my overpriced Sarasota apartment complex but this election cycle seems like a planned takeover by the Trump wing of the Republican Party, one that could have been avoided if Sleepy Joe would have woken up. It’s as if Old King Biden in his White House castle along with other Democratic leaders hobbled by family related problems, death threats, home invasions and baseless accusations of sex trafficking and baby cannibalism left the front door to winning the congressional elections unlocked, unguarded and ever so slightly ajar. Just like the Capitol police during the Jan 6 insurrection who were the US government’s premier security force … the quasi equivalent to the overhyped Iraqi Republican Guard, they too were wholly unprepared, undersupplied, understaffed, compromised and conflicted about their need to use deadly force to secure the Capitol Building. As a result they looked like amateur mall cops unable to turn away what was not only a serious national security threat but a riotous mob of unimaginable unruly weirdos, village idiots and Trump zombies wearing Buffalo horn helmets, etc.

So too these elections are occurring smack dab in the middle of an unprecedented time of craziness, crisis, uncertainty, chaos and political change characterized by extreme social and economic insecurity. In other words, nothing is really feeling “secure” at the moment including my Florida apartment complex’s security system and gates. Instead the Kingdom itself is heavily divided almost to the point it was when Abraham Lincoln warned “A house divided cannot stand”. Weakened, polarized and in continual crisis…distracted by economic and financial woes and a wily Coyote recurring plague virus that’s already dispatched a million Americans and compromised the physical and mental health of millions more. So yeah, the gates of individual and political sanity, human compassion, morality, mutual understanding and common civility were left open and a mutant horde of brain-dead zombies, election deniers and QAnon rabble rousers are now likely to breach the ramparts and gain control of the House of Representatives and many state and general elections. And THEN, even worse, they (the newly elected) might just do the absolutely unthinkable and release the Kracken, the MAGA monster and return the Mad King to his gold toilet bowl presidential throne… along with his assorted racist/violent antisemitic vengeance-seeking gun-toting fringe followers. Really hoping my nausea and this rambling reflection is nothing more than exaggerated paranoia or some leftover remnant of a flu bug or covid virus variant. However, sometimes its the little things like past behavior that count and turn out to be the best predictors of future outcomes including the kind of people who will end up running the show when the democratic dust settles so to speak. The complete absence of any publicly stated compassion, empathy or common respect shown by so many Republican party leaders and Congressmen in regards to Nancy Pelosi’s elderly husband getting his skull caved in by a clearly demented politically motivated intruder gives me a slight shiver and just the kind of dark foreshadowing feeling that makes me think of Jeff Goldblum’s classic line in Jurassic Park, “God I hate being right all the time”.

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Nutbag Nudist in SF: Cracking the Cray Cray Conspiracy Code

It now appears that the deranged antisemitic nudist in SF who broke in and attacked Paul Pelosi in his private residence was so craycray that he may have confused Nancy Pelosi the sitting United States Speaker of the House for Nancy Kerrigan the former Olympic silver medal figure skater. Just kidding. However today it was revealed that David Depape, age 42 did in fact plan to break Speaker Pelosi’s knee caps with a hammer just like Tonya Harding’s idiot ex husband and foolish friends tried to do . Let that craziness sink in right down to the bone… so to speak.

As a thankfully retired psychologist I might suggest that we pause for a second and absorb the sheer insanity of this most recent racist conspiracy theory fueled criminal act…not to mention Donald Trump Jr. making beyond absurd insensitive jokes about it on social media. This blatant incident of far right wing “run amok-ism” might turn out to be the best individual case study yet depicting not just the “no fucking way this has got to be a bad dream” crazy world that we live in but also, in addition, a real-time primer for understanding the danger, ie. irrational rage, anger, aggression, violence, etc. inherent in a society that mixes divisive politics, rampant misinformation and mental illness …and then what happens when nothing is done about it (see Proverb below).

Given the still emerging facts about the case, how can we begin to comprehend, evaluate, punish or even rehabilitate a politically deranged mentally ill nudist in S.F. ? San Francisco, my former hometown… the City by the Bay, now according to many a shadow of its former self but still retaining its unforgettable live and let live one-of-a-kind character. In contrast, the demented SF nudist seems to share certain extreme political beliefs and personality traits with the Jan 6 Capitol Building insurrectionists, both tending to be far right wing nuts who became progressively more irrational and “out for blood” after falling sway to conspiracy theories and their big bandwidth promoters on radio and cable news. Unable to heed or respect established laws and regulations pertaining to private property, trespassing, breaking and entering or the common sense and critical thinking to know not to assault innocent and/or elderly people with hammers, Dupape broke into the Pelosi’s private residence at 2am. He then physically attacked and seriously injured Speaker Pelosi’s 82 year old husband with a hammer while yelling “where’s Nancy?? Where’s Nancy?” (instead of “Where’s Mike Pence” or even “where’s Waldo??”).

Going one step further, how do we stop the toxic human sources of vile and dangerous misinformation and the divisive political rhetoric that appears to have a “Manchurian Candidate” hypnotic effect on certain people by activating them (like in the movie “Manchurian Candidate”) to commit senseless criminal acts of violence? Open to suggestions, even weird ones : 1) Make crazy nudist in SF wear clothing 24/7 for the remainder of his life and adopt personally relevant life mottos stitched into his clothing like “Just DONT Do It Dummy!!”

2) Increase the size, number and visibility of Do Not Trespass/Restricted Area signs everywhere

3) Forget #1 and #2 and sacrifice Tucker Carlson as a Hail Mary act of human contrition and all-purpose atonement ritual to God ….kind of like one of those Get Out of Jail free cards and“preemptive presidential pardons” certain people sought from Donald Trump before his Walk of Shame. Then mount his TC’s head (preferably with Roger Stone’s genitals in his mouth) on a sharp pike right in front of the White House… rather than waste taxpayer money on new signs. Somewhat ironically, Steve Bannon actually first thought of this idea.

4) Same as #3 but use Tucker Carlson’s head as a bowling ball, football, basketball and soccer ball in a clever sports product placement TV commercial during the Superbowl featuring well known player icons like Michael Jordan

5. Dont cause any bodily harm to Tucker Carlson but make sure he does NOT wear ANY clothes except his stupid bow tie during his inaccurate and inflammatory cable news commentaries. Sort of a “The Emperor (and his Patsies) Wear No Clothes” allegory…

6. Castrate Roger Stone just for the hell of it …and secondarily to make sure that his “seed is permanently wiped from the face of the earth” ala the Native American warrior Magua’s “Last of the Mohicans” seminal speech

7. ??

Proverbs 27:12. The wise man discerns danger ahead and prepares himself, but the naive simpleton never looks ahead and suffers the consequences

Translation: Whether its a mass casualty shooter in Highland Park, a deranged antisemitic nudist with a hammer or crazed election hoax rioters at the Capitol building We the People are the naive simpletons

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Highland Park: My Opinion

I’m from Highland Park. I grew up in the nearly idyllic family oriented suburb where an angry depressed and certainly deranged 21 year old decided to act out some unhinged final fantasy special edition version of Grand Theft Auto meets Lee Harvey Oswald in real time. Using a legally purchased automatic rifle Robert Crimo III rained bullets down on innocent families simply there to watch a July 4th parade. Seven people were killed, dozens injured and a whole town forever traumatized.

I’m also a retired psychologist who cant help but wonder what went wrong in that young man’s broken head as well as in his frozen if not completely broken heart. How could he do that? What was he thinking? How do you shoot innocent children and grandparents in wheelchairs? It makes me so angry. Well, it’s been exactly one week and a day since the incomprehensible tragedy and here’s what I now think. It’s just my opinion of course.

While it is certainly understandable to feel shocked, pissed off and totally outraged about Highland Park’s holiday celebration turned unspeakable tragedy I believe it would be a mistake to place all of ones anger and righteous indignation solely upon any one individual, any one family, or any single admittedly significant social problem like gun control or mental illness. Most to all of these disturbed and deranged violent individuals certainly have something wrong with their thinking and may very well have a diagnosable mental illness like severe depression, drug addiction, or bipolar disorder. However, what more likely relates to and may potentially end up predicting a hyperviolent episode like a school shooting or July 4th mass casualty event is a longstanding deep-seated despair in certain vulnerable individuals and a progressive loss of hope of ever achieving basic human needs like love, intimacy, happiness and personal success. In a nutshell many of these disturbed and disaffected young men seem to have something in common… they’ve given up on the idea that their life will ever substantially get better, particularly in regard to their present circumstance and dismal existence usually characterized by extreme anger, depression, suicidal ideation, social isolation, rejection and lack of loving relationships or care to and from significant others.

As a result, many of these young alienated individuals withdraw into alternative online worlds and anonymous social platforms including dark web underground communities where they are free to craft different lives and personas and engage with other outliers in extremist social, political, and ideological discussion groups and forums. “Losing oneself” online is not necessarily an exaggeration as real in-person affection, touch, love, understanding, bonding, belonging and physical/emotional validation are key ingredients in promoting psychological health, resilience and optimism. Without it, depression, anxiety, hopelessness, and suicidal or violent homicidal thinking is much more likely to attach itself like a self-replicating negative mental virus or maladaptive mindset.

Here comes the extra dangerous part. The negative/destructive or extreme nihilistic mindset is sometimes accompanied by a loss of empathic understanding or emotional connection with others that is normally present to ground ones moral reasoning and sense of right or wrong. Besides the debatable nihilistic philosophical belief that there is no real right or wrong the thought “i should not do that because it will hurt others” is no longer a indissoluble moral principle or interpersonal tenet that once learned cannot be unlearned or forgotten. Other preexisting conditions like a predisposition towards obsessive compulsive disorder ( negative intrusive thoughts/compulsive behaviors subtype) or a history of childhood trauma/violence and/or substance abuse especially alcohol, stimulants and gaba neurotransmitter altering substances like anabolic steroids, cocaine, amphetamines, sedatives, opiates, and hallucinogens can potentially add to and worsen the likelihood of a deranged act of violence, even if the shooter himself believes his horrific act to be sensible, necessary, or even inevitable.

Summary: As a society, rather than shoot all of our social problem-solving missiles towards one obviously important need like better gun control (no doubt very important) or even better mental heath screening and treatment (certainly important) perhaps we need to also recognize an inconvenient truth lying right before us in plain sight. Extremely unhappy/dissatisfied young people with no hope and no “skin in the game” in the celebrity social media driven real world (capitalistic/materialistic culture of today) and who are socially isolated and unmonitored (meaning nobody knows or cares enough to actively question, challenge or intervene in such an individuals evolution towards extreme hatred and violence) and who were previously exposed to violence, mind-altering drugs and/or polarizing political beliefs and propaganda that foster aggression and include violent dehumanizing rhetoric are not just human ticking time bombs in a mental health sense but essentially weaponized suicide bombers in a domestic terrorism sense.

If we as citizens and shaken survivors can recognize a related but perhaps less complete version of such transgressive social and psychological programming on January 6th, 2021 at the Capital building in Washington DC in the faces and actions of common American citizens turned Stop the Steal violent protestors then we should also be able to recognize what antisocial human recipe results when the unfinished brain of a deeply depressed and disconnected suicidal young person with a history of drugs/psychedelic abuse lacking love, nurture or genuine family closeness gains parental approval for a collection of knives, ninja swords and guns including permission to purchase automatic weapons but little to no positive reinforcement for believing they have a worthwhile place in society not to mention a future with any realistic hope for love, happiness, or success. Awake the Rapper no doubt at some level woke up to THAT reality, nurtured its nihilistic ramifications and chose the predictable alternative of antisocial infamy. No surprise since The Joker did the same thing. Maybe we as a society need to wake up to and confront that kind of unfortunate and inconvenient human truth that is just as real and unavoidable as climate change.

Notes: Radicalized individuals as I’ve described above who’s destructive brand of nihilism despises existing societal norms also detest joyous community celebrations of freedom (like Passover among Jewish people and the Fourth of July by American citizens). As a result they may choose to turn their formerly benign or constructive energies into purely destructive pursuits. Antisocial forms of self-expression and behavior go beyond the bizarre or merely outrageous because they actually aim to destroy the core ideas, symbolic images (like a 4th of July parade) and people living in what we typically perceive to be a happy healthy democratic society. Put another way, that which we celebrate is directly associated in their disturbed upside-down minds with having caused their intolerable misery.

More than money, fame, career success, social class, intelligence or genes the single most important factor in a long and happy life is love. Intimate bonds protect us from life’s hardships, delay mental and physical decline and predict long-term happiness.Sep 29, 2018

“For certain vulnerable people in these corners of the dark web, reality is meaningless, and if they can destroy reality, then that’s the only thing worth doing anymore,” said Newhouse. “The dehumanization of both the self and other people is the core aspect of why this shows up in these types of cases. Duh

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Downtown Sarasota Kicks Off Homeless Inspired Art Project

Title Contest: Help us name the first of hopefully many more homeless themed

public art installations in downtown Sarasota. The attached photo depicts the still unfinished interactive display that includes a circular paver and cement “sundial” shaped base with a seemingly lifeless possibly even comatose homeless person sprawled on top of the horological (time telling) sun dial. Here are some preliminary titles suggested by Sarasota residents and local art enthusiasts:

1. Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is? Umm 1PM??

2. 1 o’Clock, 2 o’Clock, 3 o’Clock Rock

3. Sarasota Squid Games: Dispossessed Squatter Edition

4. The Time Machine: He’s Got All the Time in the World…Um Not Really

Introduction: Public art is expensive. The administrative hurdles and cost to cities and urban municipalities involved in bringing to fruition dynamic new art into green spaces, parks, and common areas downtown is challenging to say the least. “In place” public art requires not only engaging regional artists and jury selecting large sculptures and wind/weather-resistant creative installations but also coordinating a rigorous multidisciplinary approval process/design team that includes multiple P&R full-time employees as well as outside consultants, architects, project managers, and civil engineers experienced in public works that involves permanent “in place” art. Navigating through the complicated administrative procedures and city/county/state government building codes and regulations in a still recovering Covid pandemic economy, ie. supply chain delayed materials, increased labor costs, required liability and disability insurance as well as future projected maintenance and cleaning expenses has made local government sponsored art projects and public works prohibitively expensive and quite often beyond the budget allowances of even affluent cities like Sarasota.

Unfortunately private funding for such worthy public art downtown have also suffered over the last few years and are further impacted as a result of current events and market instability. Wealthy private donors, local patrons of the arts, visiting oil and gas billionaires and normally cash flush Russian oligarchs living in or around Sarasota are being forced to sell or hide their discretionary assets, ie. mega yachts, private jets, European soccer teams, illegally purchased or stolen antiquities and museum quality art collections due to US government pressure, congressional investigations, economic sanctions and frozen bank accounts related to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

As a result, a more creative, pragmatic and cost-effective approach to public art is needed in Sarasota. Just like in the burgeoning field of fine dining/culinary art which trends towards using local ingredients and food sources as well as homegrown or creative presentations of regional cuisine, ie. farm to table gourmet restaurants, outdoor farmers markets, etc., public art projects in downtown areas like Sarasota need to also think about relying on local commodities that are fresh, plentiful, and more affordable.

Let’s be honest. Sarasota has a seemingly boundless supply of fresh, employable and/or completely unemployable homeless people willing and able to be used as stationary (or barely moving) art, sculptural art pieces, interactive architectural components and authentic public art figures in situ. Good art should be something people can relate to (or at least imagine if their health, life savings and/or stock portfolio goes to hell in a hand-basket). By extension why not consider good art, especially downtown public art to be displays which are “true to form” and literally comprised of living breathing human beings …even if the art objects breath is pretty damn bad, even if they are passed out or huddled together in various “off the tourist radar” places (like near Salvation Army and Planned Parenthood), even if they are found sleeping early morning in front of posh clothing boutiques and newly renovated store fronts on Main Street, engaged in loud nonsensical meth fueled conversations and altercations with themselves or others while trekking across already noisy Fruitville Road or even while eating, drinking, changing their socks and (on occasion) urinating in the increasingly sparse landscaping outside the downtown Public library right across from Starbucks.

The point is that homeless people are still real human beings. Furthermore, as “embodied” public art the homeless very likely could be procured to participate or literally become outdoor art. Consider the pros involved. They have no long annoying commute to contend with and no automobiles to drive and park (adding to traffic congestion and major headaches trying to figure out how to use the so called user friendly automated parking meters). In addition, homeless people as homeless art objects probably could be paid exclusively in Starbucks gift cards, cigarettes, beer and lottery tickets. Best of all homeless art and artists typically dont demand special celebrity “hey I’m a famous avant garde artiste” diva treatment like required on-site swedish masseuses, pilates instructors, charcuterie platters and 24/7 champagne flights. Most important …the homeless being homeless dont give a damn about state or county planning rules and regulations, public works building and construction restrictions, federal OSHA laws, planning department inspectors or inspections, liability and disability insurance or come to think of it…. basically really anything.

Like the Dude in The Big Lebowsky the homeless population of Sarasota mostly just wants to “abide” and get by. Maybe that’s what they can teach the rest of us take for granted spoiled homeowners and over-entitled cell phone and iPad addicted arty farty show-offs and art auction imposters. Hell, it’s just an idea even if a few existing laws, ordinances and labor practices might need to be cleverly altered first… probably by passing some teeny tiny font voter referendum held during an obscure midterm election, etc.

The important thing is that a vibrant growing creative community like Sarasota known across the US for its artistic vision and cultural arts as well as its social conscience regarding the “homeless problem” (not to mention it’s absolutely ridiculous real estate prices making it literally impossible to buy anything except a falling apart crack house or rat-infested hovel for under 2 million bucks) needs and deserves just such a uniquely “human” art initiative. At the very least let’s think about it….

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Part Two: Idiosyncratic Insights and Other Out of Sorts and Annoying Out of Place Things

Part Two: Yeah, that was only one of my idiosyncratic Covid crazy insights and ideas in Part One. I have a few more. One of them is about a certain half baked idea to designate a certain day in the very near future for stir crazy Covid fearing citizens stuck at home (as well as other adult-aged individuals with OCD) to be allowed without criminal penalty or fine to venture outside with masks and fully sanitized chainsaws (courtesy of Home Depot and Lowes) to exercise and express their pent up feelings by chopping/sawing down two or three personally annoying, ugly, completely dead or grossly asymmetrical trees or protruding branches owned by their recalcitrant neighbors or random strangers, aka people who cant see or appreciate that something on their private property greatly offends Obsessive Compulsive humanity and the Universe’s fundamental need for order and perfect symmetry… especially at a stressful, tumultuous and confusing time like this.

Yeah, i realize this idea is right on the cusp of promoting a form of unfettered and untethered insanity and social deviance akin to “wilding for grown-ups” (if not unrestrained Social Darwinism). That’s why release forms and legal waivers will be needed in the event things go bad and seemingly normal citizen participants suddenly go “rogue” like lockdown crazed Leatherface characters and start hacking off other people’s heads or limbs rather than just a couple of emotionally cathartic landscaping improvements in ones suburban subdivision, etc.

Hey it’s just an idea and fortunately I completely forgot the rest of my genius insights while typing out this long weird but sincere blog. Peace Out. Love, CaptCliff

◦ P.S. Here are a few photo examples that have plagued me recently, er I mean bothered me lately. Plague…probably not a great word to use nowadays. Way too triggering.
◦ P.P.S. If you are trying to sell your expensive suburban house with “Master on Main” (EVEN in a strong sellers market) please chop down the creepy dead tree right next to the sign. I will even do it for you….

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Part One: Todays Idiosyncratic Insights and Other Out of Sorts and Annoying Out of Place Things

Sometimes interesting idiosyncratic insights emerge from unusually stressful circumstances including physical and psychological isolation, repeated Covid lockdowns, one too many lousy takeout meals and a seemingly endless pandemic accompanied by seemingly endless contradictory information. The situation is only made worse when one next door neighbor says, “Covid is a complete hoax” and another tells you on the very same day, “The hospitals are overflowing. Did you hear about Bill Greenbaum and his family?”

I’m sure solitary confinement and social isolation have led certain highly gifted individuals to come up with a slew of impressive scientific innovations and a number of philosophical and technological advancements in human history. I just cant think of any at the moment. Maybe that’s because lately I’ve been pretty busy during the day trying to manage my own anxiety, fear, anger, insomnia, confusion and bewilderment by watching Tik Tok puppy videos on my cell phone or scrolling through YouTube clips of movies all night I’ve seen before but somehow forgot in the haze of time, retirement and Covid craziness.

As a psychologist trust me on one thing. People are pretty crazy right now. The Covid virus is pretty bad and growing increasingly more deadly (again) but so are people. In fact it might be somewhat liberating to admit out loud that many quasi self- quarantined individuals are currently at their wits end and possibly approaching the mental state I call “crazy as a freakin’ loony bird” . On the other hand, the positive thing to keep in mind is how WAY WAY WAY MORE CRAY-CRAY other people are as vividly displayed on cable news. Multiple stories of random insanity on airplanes, trains, buses, etc. are occurring as well as in shocking YouTube videos taken by bystanders in grocery stores, shopping malls, Walmart parking lots and in the entire state of Florida. Feel free to compare yourself and your current personal delusions, irrational thinking, intermittent hallucinations and weird behavior to the average batshit crazy Florida resident, serial killer or elected politician. You will feel a lot more normal… if that’s even a thing nowadays. I’m not even mentioning all the random viral video violence, “knock an Asian or senior citizen out” games, car craziness and general “wilding” in the streets of practically every major U.S. city by young people without brains in their head.

Is it me or do you ever pause, reflect and wonder to yourself, “how the fuck did things get to this point?” or “wait, is this just a really long unusually dysphoric dream, completely wacked out election cycle or dystopian nightmare about normal people going insane and proceeding to form nonsensical conspiracy theories and bizarre cults promulgating bullshit beliefs”? Even worse is the dreadful feeling that one has already seen a much better and far more believable horror/zombie film before either on TV or in a proper movie theater with comfortable reclining seats and fresh popcorn about a raving lunatic narcissist President with apocalyptic aspirations, hordes of hive-minded undead people and deadly brain-eating baboon viruses spreading into the general population due to rampant denial, government incompetence, corporate greed or some other dead person’s evil spirit trying to get revenge on living humankind.

What did we (still alive American people) ever do to deserve such a prolonged pandemic, zombie-esque dead/dumb/violent prone citizenry and an impossible-to-kill relentless loudmouth pie hole president with the brain the size of a walnut? Ok, sure that last part was in the past and yeah we pretty much had to cheat, slaughter, rape and pillage our way to our Manifest Destiny, personal freedom and Declaration of Independence. Thats a given. All the other stuff like slavery, smallpox, Civil War, racism, pollution, political corruption, toxic chemicals, greed, gluttony, antisemitism, anti-asian violence, antiballistic missiles and anti everybody else except rich white people and not so wealthy white people with assault weapons, MAGA hats, and toxic artificial plastic Xmas trees from WalMart was just the necessary “collateral damage” of our human evolution/revolution, natural selection “survival of the fittest” as well as our country’s eventual emergence as a major Superpower among nations (translation: apex predator) and “beacon of light” to the rest of the humankind world. Right?

◦ You know what? Now that I think about it… if the novel Covid19 virus (in fantasy) did have a brain and not just its ever-evolving super contagious rDNA downloading medieval mace meets Alien Predator spike proteins that enable it to hunt us down like dumb unvaccinated cattle, fluffy white rabbits and docile ducks in a row by taking full advantage of it’s relative invisibility, attaching itself to our vulnerable respiratory tissue using a simple but elegant “docking maneuver” that both Elon Musk and NASA would be exceedingly impressed by and then injecting/infecting us in poorly ventilated spaces like crowded churches, choir practice, at home birthday bashes, rowdy late night bars, all you can eat buffets and anti-masker restaurants, etc. then I’m pretty darn sure the Covid virus would think the EXACT SAME THING about its own Mainifest Destiny, evolution and biologic Bill of Rights. In other words WE (humankind) are ITS collateral damage. We may turn out to be the dinosaur fossils and heap of brittle bones from an extinct race of hominids that inhabited the planet for a short period of archeological and cosmological time. As a result of our current state of human disunity and national divisiveness (versus sensible bipartisan agreement and unity such as was displayed during WWII) we are Covid19’s proverbial “sitting duck”. Hey you cant blame a pseudo-alive organism or even a single-celled microorganism without a brain or central nervous system for wanting to survive at any cost just like us. Right?

Speaking of sitting ducks: As a foodie and lover of good Chinese food who doesn’t love a wonderfully prepared and nicely plated Peking Duck on those soft fluffy little white rice buns? Only this time we’re the main entree and metaphorically speaking it’s our buns on the community acquired Sunday Special along with our smorgasbord of blood rich internal organs, ie. juicy hearts, lungs, blood vessels, livers, kidneys, bones, and brains ….at least what’s left of them. He/She/It/We/They/Alpha virus even invited their variant relatives Delta and recently arrived variant Lambda along for the rolling global pandemic/ progressive dinner with their soon to be discovered non-gender revealing vaccine resistant viral offspring. “Chi-na”!!

In my demented state I can almost imagine Gary Larson doing a future The Far Side comic circa 2022 or 2023 showing a bloated Covid virus getting up from a buffet table overflowing with human skulls and bones with a blood-stained napkin tucked into his bulging shirt collar only to remark, “Man oh man was that ever a super spread!!”

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Part Deux: The Legend of Mochi Mazer

Living with a hyperactive 12-13 week old Havapoo puppy named Mochi is an exercise in Barely Avoided Disasters…otherwise known as BAD. Even tho we scour the floors and living areas daily for health hazards and items forbidden to teeny tiny teething pups (basically everything), she still manages much like hardened criminals in prison to secretly acquire dangerous contraband and hide pieces of it in her cell, er I mean cage/crate. I’m talking about cleverly random but clearly hazardous items like a shirt button, a small shard of broken glass, a closed safety pin, a rubber band, pillow tags, and a punctured plastic sandwich bag. Is she planning an Alcatraz type escape attempt? Is she busy fashioning shivs and shanks late at night with her tiny razor sharp teeth and furry little paws while we sleep? One cannot know for sure with this miniature mastermind we call Mochi Mazer. What I can say for sure is that she remains utterly adorable while tempting fate and torturing us into questioning our fitness as puppy parents.

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Mochi Mazer the Adorable Havapoo and Criminal Mastermind Puppy

Once a quiet corner of whitewashed cabinetry and staggered kitchen tile now better known as Cell Block Z…home to one of the most incorrigible yet super cute toy puppies on the planet. Only the most adorable and alternately most vicious Hannibal Lecter like pups and serial escape artists are relegated to this Southwest Style Super Max canine correction facility in suburban Atlanta. Mochi Mazer is one of them.

On the outside an adorable ten week old miniature puffball and Toy Havapoo… but on the inside a scheming evil genius with the psychological manipulation skills to already dominate her sweet but gullible 10 year old Black Lab sibling Harmony either by making her 1) swallow her tongue like Miggs in the movie Silence of the Lambs 2) hand over her prized once a day dental stick or 3) just do her never ending adorable bidding…which includes consigning herself to being Mochi’s live chew toy 24/7.

Yes Mochi Mazer may only possess a 3 lb. canine body and a tiny puppy brain the size of a spanish walnut but she can already multitask like a criminal mastermind by plotting, executing and then covering up a brutal physical assault on a peace loving Pooh Bear stuffed animal all while still looking incredibly cute. Imagine being able to do that while simultaneously whining and begging for human food like pancakes and bacon that she has never even tried and certainly isn’t allowed to eat. The crime in question was committed swiftly and without mercy using extreme cunning and apex predator instincts on par with an adult Velociraptor as depicted in Jurassic Park. Clever Girl.

To wit: Yesterday Mochi “I want pancakes and bacon” Mazer ripped Winnie The Pooh’s stuffed animal face off even as He/she/them/Pooh sat on the bedroom floor silently pondering Existential philosophy and Zen Buddhism. Like Travis the enraged benzo-addicted alcoholic chimpanzee that tore visitor Charla Nash’s face off just for fun, Mochi Mazer pounced on Pooh and in a short time left him both non-sentient and without many of his well known highly recognizable facial features. Thanks to modern reconstructive surgery and Dollar Store superglue Winnie will recover to live a normal Disney animal lifespan but is destined to suffer lifelong physical and psychological scars including Complex Toy Story PTSD. Mochi Hannibal Havapoo Mazer on the other hand and much like the notorious honey badger in the YouTube viral video “just dont care” and “dont give a shit”.

Even now she is looking adorably cute as others slave away picking up her stinky poop, wiping up her little pee puddles with truckloads of valuable paper towels, laying down hundreds of square feet of overlapping doggie diaper pads, and fruitlessly attempting to fix a growing list of household items and valuables that Mochi breaks, bites, and tears into a million pieces just for puppy fucks. Tune in for future episodes exploring the devious mind and endlessly antisocial behavior of Mochi Mazer.

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