On the Road Again

A Place in the Sun

My stay at the corner of Chelsea and Hyde Park in Memphis was bracketed by gang violence.  The day before I arrived a guy had been gunned down just up the block from the auto shop where me and Bandit were staying.  His T-shirt was one of two planted in a makeshift memorial, in an untended lot just across the street from where Bandit and I were holed up (see header pic).  A daily reminder of the senseless randomness of street thuggery in the US today, a good deal of which is fueled by the ongoing refusal of some states to come to terms with legalizing marijuana.  As was the case with alcohol prohibition, this inevitably leads to black market activity and violence is the only ‘legal’ recourse for solving “market” disputes.  There’s a “Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre” happening almost every day somewhere in the poorer parts of the American landscape, but since the dead are mostly poor Blacks and not upscale Italian mobsters, it doesn’t make the ‘news’.  I knew moving in here that the area was a sketchy, but this was underscored in a seriously dramatic fashion Sunday evening. 

Why We Left

IMG_1165

“Nelly Belle” loaded up with Bandit taking one last look at the ‘hood.

There was an honest to goodness running gun battle that took place right at this spot early Sunday evening.  

Bandit and I hunkered in for the night and when daylight appeared Monday morning, I decided not to continue to remain in an area that appears, for all intents and purposes, to be one of the primary gang “drug dealerships” in Memphis.  

To be fair, I had never before felt personally threatened by the gang activity.  I was living in their neighborhood and they treated me with kindness, dignity and respect. There was no hint of racial animosity whatsoever.  This in no way abated the fact that the internecine gang skirmishes were a fact of life or that the general deprivations of the area played heavily on my ability to retain my exuberant upbeat attitude.  None of the businesses seen in the pics below are open and even the church shown in this slideshow was ‘out of business”.  You know things are bad when both the pool hall and the church give up on the area!

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Though the deprivations in our living arrangements were harsh. I was thankful to have a place for me and Bandit to bivouac while attending to the issues of the van that my friend Drew Pittman had so graciously gifted me.  I consider Drew one of my secular guardian angels.  The van he gave us is truly a life saver and game changer for me and Bandit as we continue the daily struggle to rebuild our lives back here in the US.

What’s Next?

Bandit and I have moved to a safe location outside Memphis and are in a holding pattern awaiting paperwork on the van which has been promised to be forthcoming.  I will be meeting with Drew over the fourth of July weekend to finalize all that before heading on to Pike’s Peak as has been my intention since arriving back in the US last November.  In the meantime we are both doing fine and expect to have a wonderful Fourth of July weekend just like the rest of America.  Memphis wasn’t all bad by any means and I do not wish to leave that impression.  We loved the parks and the general vibrancy of the city.  Memphis is definitely moving in the right direction and there is a lot of opportunity awaiting those with the gumption to grab it.

The circumstances of my poverty greatly exacerbated the situation and though I actually started working within a week of my arrival, getting both the van in shape and trying to acquire the basic items necessary for life made it difficult to accumulate any real wealth.  It’ll be touch and go for sure until we’re actually in Colorado and settled in but that challenge is more appealing to me at this point than gambling with my safety in Memphis.

Enjoy.

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Newsviews

International

Scores of rich westerners are going to have to delay their plans to climb Mount Everest until all the bodies of the dead poor people who actually live there can be removed.  Life can be so unfair.

National

The nation looks for a way to reduce over-policing and reduce the levels of angst in minority neighborhoods.  The utility of legalizing and taxing weed is not to be mentioned in context with these events.

Sports

When we’re not decrying the amount of black violence in our cities we’re busy extolling the virtues of minority males beating the crap out of each other for huge piles of money in the ring or on the field.

Crime

The cops in Los Angeles Baltimore are bringing civility back to law enforcement by gunning down homeless killing Black people  on the street already in custody with cameras rolling. on their way to the police station.

Business

Twitter stock tanks 20%. Most Americans are still pondering; “What the hell is a Twitter?” Related? #techbubble

Opinion

Just when you think the Republicans can’t get any more ignorant than the previous week along comes an rising star imbecile comparing union workers to ISIS. claiming Obama is bringing on “the Rapture”.   It boggles the mind. #creationscience

Enjoy.

Newsviews

International

The president of America is coming from Israel to speak before a joint session of Congress just as soon as he gets done slapping around the Palestinians.

National

No trains full of crude oil or plutonium derailed and exploded this week.

Sports

The last play in the Super Bowl still lingers in my mind like a bad bowl of dinner chili burped up at breakfast the following day.

Crime

The cops in Los Angeles are bringing civility back to law enforcement by gunning down homeless people on the street in broad daylight with cameras rolling.

Business

Sooner than later we’ll see what an iWatch actually looks like and it’ll bring a crashing halt to the ‘iWatch’ rumor industry.  Expect iWatch rumor industry stocks to take a deep fall.

Opinion

Just when you think the Republicans can’t get any more ignorant than the previous week along comes a rising imbecile to compare union workers to ISIS.  It boggles the mind.

Enjoy.

 

 

Newsviews

National

Obama is doing such a fine job that it triggered Rudy Gulliani into orchestrating a self destructive ego implosion.

International

Muslim miracle as huge fire fails to collapse one of their tallest skyscrapers.  Is it a sign from Allah or just good engineering?

Crime

That lady who went looking to gun down that neighbor kid for pissing her off ended up getting gunned down herself.  Awkward.

Sports

Some Nascar dude beat on his wife but there’s no elevator footage so he’ll probably be back to spinning around in circles in no time.

Business

Apple is hiring up people and actually paying them what they’re worth which is causing their competitors considerable consternation. Beneficial free market concepts are rarely “trickled down” far enough for the workforce to partake of.  Their former employers are gearing up to spend a fortune enforcing non-compete clauses costing millions that could have otherwise been applied to the workers before they bolted.  Walmart was so spooked they cranked their pay knob all the way up to ten!

Opinion

We should outlaw non-compete clauses.  We’re a competitive society, not some hippie-lettuce toking, tambourine-circle banging commune-ists  (exceptions: Colorado, Washington, Alaska and yours truly).

Enjoy.

Monday Morality Mashup

Oh  God

Congratulations on surviving the weekend, but if you find yourself taking a bit too much pride in that singular accomplishment you probably fall into one of these three categories.

Number One

Commode Hugging Drunk

You’ve finally collected yourself off the bathroom floor, and are overjoyed that God took your vow of future abstinence as a reason not to kill you outright (as you clung to the commode for dear life).  Good thing that God doesn’t seem to take that promise very seriously or the college death rates in the US would skyrocket.  Don’t worry if you made that promise yourself last weekend. You’ve absolutely nothing to fear.  Drink up.

Number Two

You’re a murderous death row inmate who just got a stay of execution.

Lego Stay of ExecutionNumber Three

Hell on EarthYou are deeply religious, and therefore so scared of dying and going to Heaven you’re overjoyed with every extra day that your savior allows you to exist here in the Devil’s Playground (aka Earth, not just Las Vegas).

Keeping You Accountable

There are all kinds of things that “God” can be credited with keeping you accountable for and not just murder, inebriation or your secret desire to wear women’s lingerie.

It really doesn’t matter which God you pick from.  One God may favor women in burlap, while another yearns for virgin sacrifice.  Some Gods are really into cows, while others deify rats.  The rules of accountability (morality), as outlined in many conflicting ancient texts, are themselves obtuse enough that internecine fractionalization of the major religions is geopolitically destabilizing.  But this isn’t a post about politics, it’s a post about morality and what constitutes the bedrock we should be building our moral foundations upon.

Lottery in June, Corn be heavy soon

The Lottery

What God holds you personally accountable for varies according to your time and place in history. but since this is now in history, and my readership is mainly American, I’ll focus on Christianity.  There’s little sense in deconstructing the lunacy of an Aztec priest ripping the heart out of a heavily drugged virgin for the greater good of society.  Most of us are already pretty sure that form of faith doesn’t really keep the crops from failing, though the stigma of such belief is still apparent in our English literature.

Christian Morality

What the hell is Christian morality these days?  For folks who ground their moral lives around beliefs supposedly written in stone, the shifting sands of Christian morality are changing so rapidly it’s hard to keep them in focus for one lifetime, let alone a millennia.

Shotgun Jeebus

Shotgun Jeebus – Hommie Don’t Play That.

It is nearly impossible to witness species emerge through physical evolution in the short span of a couple human lifetimes.  It is equally impossible to miss the evolution of Christian morality over a similar timeframe.  Not that long ago a good Christian man was one who properly cared for his slaves, and as recently as last week (in archaeological time) the gays were still being vilified and lambasted by our Christian society, whereas now they’re being wed by US Supreme Court justices.  Next thing you know, Jeebus is going to be back to hitting the bong at the Seattle Hempfest like he was blazing it up back at Woodstock.

The Good Old Days

Hippie Jeebus

When I was a kid, God’s hippie son preached peace, forgiveness and charity to the poor.  He was often photographed with an acoustic guitar slung over his shoulder, surrounded by braless, misshapen girls in tie-dyed sundresses.. Don’t act like he never even existed!  If you’re over fifty you can’t deny it.  That imaginary Jeebus got kicked to the side of the road long ago, in lieu of a more strident militaristic Onward Christian Soldier version.   Today, there are high level Christians leading the charge to help the poor by starving them to death and they often get together to vainly pray that the worldwide violence they spread won’t end up right back on their doorstep.

Jeebus Wars

The verdict is still out over which imaginary Jeebus will return to the throne in America.  Will the rightwing militant Jeebus retain the throne or has his time passed?  To make things more interesting, there is a growing movement to throw all the imaginary Jeebus’ into the dustbin of history and let them party with the many lost and abandoned Gods before them.

In the meantime, your so-called bedrock Christian morality had better be as flexible as a yoga masters spine because depending on which outlaw territory of America you happen to find yourself in, you’re going to be heavily dependent on currying favor with whatever local warlord happens to run your neighborhood.  It pays to “open minded” and malleable to change in times like these.

Kindness without God's Interference

Tomorrow:  How in the name of Goodness will we ground our human morality without some form of imaginary Jeebus?   Science can’t possibly project from “what is” to “what ought to be”,  or can it?

Enjoy.