TELL ME STORIES ABOUT OUR LIFE

Tell me stories about our life
Did we have fun?
Were you truly happy when you told me you were?
Because, you see, I was happy when I thought that to be so
And if you take that back now my life suddenly means nothing
And the doctors have nothing to give you to treat wasted years
And it breaks so many
To fall so far
So, let us just sit in the sun
On our favourite bench
Surrounded by the trees we named
And chat
Like we used to
When we held hands
Like each other was the most precious thing in the world
And it was
Or so I thought
Please tell me now
Was it true for you?
Or were you just being kind
When you said you were mine?
Were you settling for less
Than you believed the world owed you?
Do you feel that you threw away your life
And beauty
So I could live?
Because if you did
You have killed us both
And our life was just a one-sided
Delusional dream
Perhaps I worry too much
In these September years
But you’re all I have
My only constant
In a world that has lied about everything we’ve been told
For the last 50 years
A governmental plan to confuse us But enough about lies
I surrender
To whatever it was that got us through
Let us take some time out
And sit in this park
And you do the talking
Hold my hand
And tell me stories about our life

(C) Frank Howson 2018

 

painting by Frank Howson

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THAT LONG TRAIN RIDE

I was right
About all the little things that didn’t matter.
I was wrong about all the big things that did.
But youth is for foolishness and mistakes.
The concept being that you will eventually learn from mistakes and your heart will grow a harder layer of protection. This can be a lifelong education of regrowth if you don’t pay enough attention to details.
One theory is that we keep falling in love with the same person, over and over, like some weird drunkard’s dance in a Groundhog Day scenario. Even if that person was all wrong for us in the first place. So is it familiarity that attracts? The devil we know is better than the saviour we don’t? Perhaps we just tire from the waiting and settle for what we know. Attracted to those who remind us of ourselves? Or marry for money and security even though that brings in its train a lifetime of boredom and unrequited dreams and hopes? But surely that is not a living, but a dying? For money proves to be a cold companion and takes more than it gives. Doomed to buy all the toys and trinkets to impress others whilst your subsequent depression stemming from your inner knowledge that nothing purchased brings any lasting pleasure. You are a compromised person and although you can lie to your conscience your sub-conscious knows the truth, and forces you to spend most of your days sleeping. Hiding from life. Avoiding waking to the horror of who you really are. A prisoner trapped in a cell of your own making. Spending all your approved allowance on the best drugs to dull yourself to the harsh reality that you are already dead.
I took myself to Disneyland today.
Why?
I wanted to return to a simpler, safer time when I believed in dreams and heroes.
All around me was the sound of the laughter of children and the look of wonderment in their eyes.
They are years from cynicism and reducing the world to something they can understand.
I had a photo taken with Mickey but my idol Donald Duck was nowhere to be seen.
Disneyland was conceived and built by a sad and lonely man who acted childish at times. Because the truth is he was still a child and needed to build a romanticised version of his childhood town – a place where it was always clean, and wholesome and safe. And contained no tyrannical father. Ironic huh? Was he insane? In most people’s terms, yes. But at least his dreams were safer than those of young Adolf Hitler, a failed painter from Austria. Y’know, if young Adolf had’ve sold three or four landscape paintings the whole Second World War may have been avoided. I always say, “Be careful about pissing off creative people. That creative light force once turned back on itself can become very dark and destructive.”
On the other hand, all of the world’s great accepted visionaries were a little looney tunes. Some, very much so. Fortunately their insanities were focused towards something more publicly palatable than the Third Reich or the NWO. They risked everything thinking outside the box. Their own lives became secondary to their dream. And many died in their footsteps upon that lonely highway. They sacrificed romantic relationships, friendships, their dignity (as many were publicly ridiculed), their personal happiness, and a comfortable safe life. Why? And what for? A higher calling? Immortality? If there is no God and no afterlife why do people do this to themselves? If we’re just here marking time until the long darkness, why not just put the tools down and embrace the fairly interesting train ride to nowhere?
It’s the same with love. If it’s not a God-given gift to share then what exactly is it? Why care so much about it? Or anyone else?
I pondered all these things as I sat in my chair looking out the window that was shaped like Mickey’s head on the Disneyland Express on my train ride back to somewhere.

(C) Frank Howson 2018

THE PEOPLE OF DARKNESS

The living are always under attack from the dead. As night follows day so do those of darkness target those of light and stalk them with words of hero worship when,  the truth is, the mere existence of those with a spark irritates them and they consciously or, in some cases, subconsciously,  work toward the extinguishment of that flame. Wilhelm Reich writes about this condition in detail in his book The Murder of Christ.

The people of darkness use many tools to bring down the envied. Negative rumours, stories that are unfounded in fact, and a whole range of politically acceptable words to discredit their target i.e., Narcissist (this applies to anyone who is successful in showbiz who uses social media to promote their latest ventures) because the fact that someone may actually be getting off their fat ass and doing something reminds the person of darkness how meaningless and unfocused their own life is; Nazi (it is acceptable in today’s politically correct world to call anyone with an opposing opinion this and get away with it. This is disgustingly outrageous and unfair to their target whose only crime may be to have an original thought, as well as, obviously, making light of what the real Nazis did). But let me not bring logic into this lest I be called names. Anti-Semitic is a good one too in some cases. I have even witnessed Jewish people being called anti-Semitic because they dared to have an opinion that didn’t sit comfortably with the party line. Such is the out of control world we live in where the militant wheel gets oiled first and the logical debate is not only not considered it is condemned. Here we have a perfect storm for the people of darkness to not only hide within, but thrive.

Bob Dylan has predicted for some time now that we have entered the end game. Anyone who has studied theology and the predictions of the old prophets would have to concur. In my opinion we are currently engaged in the final war between good and evil, darkness and light, and the shadow people are only going to get more and more hysterical as things don’t go their way. They are currently very confused as to why things aren’t going the way of the Polls. Could it be divine intervention?

It is difficult to untangle yourself from a person of darkness because they are cling ons – spiritual vampires sucking your energy. And the more you give them the more resentful they will become towards you. For even your kindness is an irritation. A reminder of what they are not. They will insult you by praising strangers and even abusing and opportunistic ex-partners above your efforts to help, give and support. This is to make you crazy and so confused you will cease to be able to function and end up zombie like staring out a window into the light that was once your source. Do not under any circumstances feed them. Let well enough alone. Danger and madness this way comes.

(C) Frank Howson 2017

BOOZE AND DRUGS

There’s a great scene in “Breaking Bad” where Walt White and Hank, his DEA brother-in-law, discuss the thin line between what’s legal and what’s not. And that even good people can topple over sometimes onto the wrong side of the line for the simplest of things.

Much has been made of Robin Williams’ on and off drug problems and struggle with alcohol, but I would suggest when he decided to end it all he was straight.

On October 28, 1919 – a date that will live in infamy if not the annals of stupidity – the U.S. Congress passed the Volstead Act over President Wilson’s veto and prohibited the sale of alcohol to the public. And what was the effect of that? It made gangsters like Al Capone very wealthy men. By 1925, in New York alone, there were, estimated, between 30,000 and 100,000 speakeasy clubs. The moral of the story? If people want something bad enough they’ll get it. Making it illegal just insures that you have to pay inflated prices for it and deal with criminals and underworld characters that brings with it its own dangers.

When Hollywood previewed the Brian DePalma remake of “The Untouchables” they found they had a major problem with it. The audience were rooting for Al Capone over the do-good law enforcement Prohibition Agent Eliot Ness. And why not? The latter was hell-bent on denying the public booze. So the studio had to shoot an extra scene early in the movie that showed Capone’s men placing a bomb in a store that wouldn’t pay protection money and a little kid was killed, thus turning the audience’s sympathy from Capone to Eliot Ness.

So, in those dim dark ages, if you knocked three times on a speakeasy door and gave the right password, you were let in to have a scotch or a gin or whatever alcoholic beverage you were seeking. Oh, and you were considered a criminal.

Alcohol was banned to stop people over-indulging. That’s like banning food because some people over-eat. I think it’s always a very dark and sinister act when the government attempts to control what should be, in a free society, one’s personal choice and responsibility.

I would argue that cigarettes have killed more people than alcohol. Why don’t we ban those? And how ineffective would that be? Again, we’d just give a lot of criminals a new business opportunity and make them a fortune. And we’d end up paying $100 for a pack of cigarettes.

In 1922, during the alcohol prohibition years, cocaine was also banned and thus another substance, that had been legal and freely available, was given over to the underworld to boost their pockets.

The celebrated Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, himself a cocaine user, prescribed the substance to his patients believing it was a cure for depression and sexual impotence. In 1884 he published an article “Uber Coca” which promoted the “benefits” of cocaine, calling it a “magical” substance.

In 1886 it got a further boost when John Pemberton included coca leaves as an ingredient in his new soft drink, Coca-Cola. This new drink was also considered to be, ironically, a cure for a hangover caused by an over-indulgence in alcohol.

During the early 1900s, cocaine and opium-laced elixirs (magical or medicinal potions), tonics and wines were broadly used by people of all social standings. Notable figures who promoted the “miraculous” effects of cocaine included inventor Thomas Edison and actress Sarah Bernhardt.

By 1905 it became popular to snort it. By 1912 The United States government reported 5000 related deaths in one year due to an over-use of cocaine. By 1922 it was officially banned, which, when news reached Sherlock Holmes it probably resulted in his suicide by throwing himself off the Reichenbach Falls.

So, like alcohol, it was not the substance itself that was lethal but rather some people’s over-use of it.

Did you know if you drink too much water you can die from it? All we need is 5000 of us to do that in any one year and perhaps they’ll ban that too.

What I’m getting at is where does one’s own personal responsibility come into it? And where’s the line where the government intervenes into our lives and criminalizes something because some people are over-indulging?

I used to listen to a talkback radio guy in L.A who was a Libertarian. Their political philosophy upholds liberty as the principal objective. Libertarians seek to maximize autonomy and freedom of choice, emphasizing political freedom, voluntary association and the primacy of human judgment.

A woman’s debate about the right to abortion is that “it is my body and the government does not own it and anything I wish to do with it should be my choice and not theirs.”

Well then, it you want to take that debate further, and not that much further, isn’t it also correct that if I own my own body then I should be allowed to do whatever I want with it? Is it not my own personal choice if I want to drink a gallon of scotch, or shoot up heroin, or snort cocaine, smoke a carton of cigarettes, or my smelly socks for that matter? And if I’ve had enough of this life isn’t it also my right to end it? Surely it only becomes a matter for law enforcement if we are intoxicated, or high or suicidal and get behind the wheel of a car? Because by doing that we are putting other people’s lives at stake. People who have chosen to want to live. Then, of course, it becomes a concern for society at large.

John Lennon once had a hit with a song that said, “Whatever gets you through the night is alright…”

I try to get through this life attempting to be as non-judgmental of others as possible. Unless of course they steal from me or attempt to harm me. If someone is struggling and needs prescription drugs to get through, or need to self-medicate themselves with something that makes them feel better, what business is it of ours? My sympathy is with those that need it, and also my prayers. But to judge Robin Williams or Jim Morrison or Heath Ledger or Elvis or any of the millions of people out there is an act of arrogance and shows a severe lack of empathy for the pain they may be carrying. Perhaps those people who sit in judgment in their ivory towers need to come down and fuck themselves.

How do you end the drug wars and get rid of the criminal element in one swift and effective move? You legalize it. At least then there would be some monitor on exactly what people are taking and what amount. And perhaps if it is noticed that some are in such pain they are over-indulging then maybe some counseling could be recommended. But again, it would be one’s personal choice as to whether they accepted that or not.

In California now and in some other U.S. states “pot” is legal with a medical prescription. Have people gone mad with it? Of course not. They buy what they need to get them through the week and go home. Like buying a 6 pack of beer.

Cannabis oil has also proven to be a great help in prolonging and enhancing the lives of cancer patients.

Believe it or not Richard Nixon was the first President that believed drug addicts should not be treated as criminals but instead needed counseling. It would certainly free up law enforcement officers to focus on more important crimes, like people murdering each other. Or the next terrorist attack.

And besides, I would’ve thought the Government would prefer us all to be medicated anyway, so that our anger would be numbed to what idiots they are.

Anyway, just thinkin’ out loud.

(c) Frank Howson 2014

SHERLOCK’S FINAL HOURS

It seemed like the perfect time. The sun had almost slipped from sight, and the light was that thin thread between day and night. Holmes sat at his window and watched the approaching darkness with a morbid fascination. These days he had the time to do such things. The great detective was no more, because the great cases were no more. The only offers that came through his door nowadays only insulted his intelligence and belittled his talent.

He missed his genius nemesis Moriarty. There was no one to measure himself against anymore. By finally defeating him, the great Sherlock Holmes had signed his own death certificate. Like the greatest of duelists, they lived to outpoint each other, tingling with the excitement that the first one to flinch would be dead. They had given each other life, felt at its highest ecstasy. Everything after was a series of small deaths. Now Holmes was battling that most insidious villain of all – old age. When it attacks it attacks on all fronts, he’d remarked on occasion.

Life had now revealed how lonely it could be. He’d never gotten around to making friends. People only interested him if they were a suspect of some kind. The only companionship he had known was that of his associate, Doctor John Watson, a conservative man in all ways, who disapproved of the cocaine use, the untidy apartment, the late night violin playing and Holmes’ short temper with potential clients. Although he wouldn’t class him as a friend, Holmes had grown fond of Watson, and his plodding behavior sometimes amused him. In recent years, even Watson was gone. Lost to marital bliss – whatever that term meant. Holmes had scoffed when Watson had told him of his intention to take a wife, “Whatever for? Don’t I give you enough problems to occupy your mind during our working hours?” But take a wife Watson did.

Even Mrs. Hudson was gone. Sometimes Holmes would try and remember her face but couldn’t. He wasn’t sure he’d ever really looked at it. Not really. She was just someone who was there. And now wasn’t.

He had tried not to notice women. Even the most beautiful were denied a second glance. He feared them. They were distractors from one’s real purpose in life. To look into that abyss too long would render you the great nothingness of normalcy. The hypnotic funeral drumbeat of one’s true ambitions. He often said of them, “How can any man build a foundation on such shifting sands?” He would never find out.

There’d only been one woman. The woman. He had solved every case but one. She’d outsmarted him. He’d underestimated her and her parting gift to him had been public humiliation. In a way he found it strangely exciting that she’d gotten the better of him. Not a day had gone by since that he hadn’t thought of her and wondered what she was doing. Although he’d only seen and spoken to her several times, their relationship, in his mind, had continued for years. Once again he thought of her as night descended.

He rose from his chair, picked up his violin and placed it back in its case. There’d be no more music either. He walked to his desk and opened the top drawer. There was his only friend – the syringe. It was the only thing that could ease his mind and take him to a dream state where time stood still. He loved rituals and took great care with this final one. He fixed himself with enough cocaine to blow up most hearts, then went and sat back down by the window, looking out at the street life below. It was night time now. He heard some of the street boys running past, yelling at each other. Some taxi cab taking wealthy people to the opera. A prostitute negotiating with a loud drunk customer. And a baby crying.

It had been a grand life in many ways, he thought. But he was going now before he became an embarrassment to himself and those who admired him. He wasn’t sad. In fact he was calm and relieved. His heart and mind were now racing. His life flashed by yet he seemed to be able to savor every image as though being reassured he had truly lived. Seeing it all put together like this made him smile. Yes, it was a life indeed. And now he would get to experience the last mystery and solve that one too.

He was already gone when Doctor Watson knocked on his door at 9.24pm.

The next day the street boys would be selling newspapers detailing the death of the great detective. Watson was angry that the story had only made page three, but Scotland Yard had taken credit for most of the cases and Holmes was reduced to the status of a sometime adviser and “famous” eccentric. It was typical, thought Watson. He crushed the paper in his hands and ripped it in half. Nothing could subdue his rage. Then somewhere far-off he thought he heard his dear friend laugh.

(c) Frank Howson 2014

WE CAN BE HEROES (JUST FOR ONE DAY).

It’s no secret – we have always craved heroes. The loner who steps forth and willingly lays down their life so that others may live. Call them Jesus, Davy Crockett, Sherlock Holmes, Joan of Arc, Sydney Carton, Gandhi, etc., etc., etc. Like the gestation of a pearl, our heroes are formed as a defense mechanism against a threatening irritant. No one is born a hero. They are made. In the words of John Wayne, “Courage is being scared to death – but saddling up anyway.” Few of us know what we’d do in a life or death moment – that split second decision to stand or flee. As illustrated in Stephen Crane’s masterpiece novel “The Red Badge of Courage” that split second decision will mark us forever as either coward or hero. I wonder how many cowards crave to return to that defining moment – and this time lay down their life in lieu of the hell of regret and shame they have since endured.

Heroes, genuine ones, are hard to come by. In fact, the times we live in seem to rarely throw them up anymore. Hence the media and movies invent them for us so we can glow and feel safe in the knowledge that giants still do walk amongst us.

But in our eagerness to find heroes we are continually disappointed at being sold snake oil. Let’s face it, there are only two types of stories that sell newspapers and magazines – the first one is to build ’em up, the second – to tear ’em down. The perfect example is Princess Diana who started out as the media’s “darling who could do no wrong” and ended up their punching bag, stalked to death. I also remember when Alan Bond was hailed a hero. And Paul Hogan. And et finitum.

The real heroes mostly go unnoticed by the press. They probably aren’t photogenic anyway. They are the battlers who work themselves to an early grave so that their kids are fed and clothed; or the person who ruins a career rather than continue to make money out of a lie; and the firemen who run into a building when everyone else is running out.

Todd Beamer was an airline passenger travelling on 9/11 when he found himself on a hi-jacked plane heading towards the White House. After initially being terrified, he summoned the courage and the support of a few other passengers by uttering the words, “Let’s roll!,” broke open the cockpit door with a food cart, overpowered the terrorists and veered United Airlines Flight 93 off its intended target, straight into a field in Pennsylvania. Ordinary people swallowing their fear, and thought of themselves, for the greater good of others.

Which brings me to Julian Assange.

Remember how excited we were in 1974 that two reporters from the Washington Post could bring down the President of America? We loved it because we didn’t much like Nixon. He looked creepy. Had a five o’clock shadow year in, year out, and hadn’t ended an unpopular war that spilled into our living rooms every night ruining dinner. What looked like a victory for freedom to us back in ’74 has, in my opinion, created an even bigger monster. Now the press feel they are entitled to know everything about all of us and report it if they think it’s newsworthy. In this new age of no boundaries there are no such things as private lives anymore. Perhaps there’s a connection here as to why there’re so few heroes around? What complex person can have their private life scrutinised and come out a saint? We have all made mistakes (hopefully learned from them), trusted the wrong people, behaved badly, been divorced, been angry, been down, been bruised. But isn’t all that stuff the sand that makes the irritation that makes the pearl?

Would J.F.K have been so well thought of if we’d known all the aspects of his private life? Would it have made a difference to what we thought of his work as President? Should it?

Did it matter that Graham Kennedy was gay? Surely all he owed us was a brilliant performance every weeknight? And did he not deliver that in abundance?

Did it matter that Churchill could be a belligerent drunk bully at times?

My point is this – there are some things the public don’t have the right to know. Nor need to.

Is it a good thing that some of the secret information Julian Assange released to the world is out there? Probably. Does all of it deserve to be public? Probably not. But who decides about this? If I were to approve secret documents to be released it may not correlate with what you want made public, or the next person. So, don’t we vote into power political parties to make those judgment calls? And if we don’t like their decisions isn’t it our right, nay our duty, to vote them out?

One has to question the responsibility of releasing secret documents about Afghanistan. Why? Because we are, like it or not, involved in a war. A long and bloody war that has taken the lives of many and still it goes on. Do I want the US and Allied Forces (including us) to win this war? Well, if the alternative is the Taliban, you bet your arse.

One could not have had a more liberal President than Franklin D. Roosevelt. The new deal guy. A man who clearly cared about the people. He was reluctant to enter a war but when Pearl Harbour was bombed he didn’t have much of a choice. Yet how would President Roosevelt have responded to someone releasing his secret documents and information to the world (and his enemies) during wartime? I have no doubt he would’ve had the culprit charged with treason and made to pay the penalty for such. Thankfully it didn’t happen and the outcome of the war was not altered.

But to give blanket approval to Julian Assange’s actions is to open a can of worms that may never be closed again.

I was living in Los Angeles during 9/11 and saw the subsequent televised war in Afghanistan. On CNN one day I watched one of Geraldo Rivera’s reports from the war zone. During it he actually drew a diagram in the sand and pointed out where the US forces were secretly based and went on to expound what their plan of attack was. He obviously didn’t think Osama Bin Ladin watched CNN. Not one of Geraldo’s shining moments. I’m not sure how many of his countrymen he put at risk. But even one was too many.

Let me remind us all we are involved in a war. Whether you agree with that war or not, is another matter. But to put our young men and women’s lives at risk is an act of astounding stupidity. And not my kind of hero.

 
By Frank Howson (c)2012