I was thinking about consciousness.  In Reason #7 of my “Ten Reasons Not To Believe” post, I show pictures of the Vale Mine in the middle of the Amazon Rain Forest of Brazil as an example of how paltry Earth Consciousness (EC) is compared to fashion consciousness, celebrity consciousness or even car consciousness.  Most Americans would recognize over a hundred words for “car” if I’m allowed to use brand names—I saw a Taurus or I drove a Corvette.  Yet if asked, “How many of our genetic cousins, the monkeys, can you name?” most people would struggle to list a dozen.  There’re only 356 species left in the world, compared to thousands a century ago, and only a few people are aware or even care.  I believe to save the planet and the life aboard including ourselves, EC has to start grow and mushroom. 

 

On looking for a short story to enter in a contest, I came across “DUI Story” which was written some years ago when I got busted for driving home from a nudist resort in Tampa.  I had clothes on; it’s just that I also had a six-pack of Michelob on the seat next to me and a few inside. 

 

I’m posting the story here because it says much about consciousness, especially in the second half.  What do we do when our sensory input is cut to near zero?  Notice how our EC was smashed and destroyed with the appearance of the cop.  Our appreciation of the sublime, EC in the form of the squirrel and the oak tree, and Art Consciousness with the recitation of Shakespeare and Sophocles, were doused and smothered like a brilliant cathedral candle. 

 

The point is society seeks to confine and restrict EC so the owners of the Vale Mine can make profits and provide jobs, even at the cost of the extinction of a few hundred species of monkeys, butterflies and parrots.  It’s a trade-off and to them it’s worth every last wing, tooth and claw.  After all, the creatures of the Rain Forest don’t have a soul. 

 

Americans can’t do anything about it.  It’s not our country.  It’ll take the Brazilian people to demand change and reform.  But it looks like the great George Orwell was right, as O’Brian informed Winston Smith in the last chapter:  the proles have as much chance of rising up as barn animals rebelling against the farmer that feeds them.  Only the EC realization that just because the Amazon Rain Forest lies within its national boundaries doesn’t mean this wonderland of biodiversity belongs exclusively to Brazilians.  This wonder and gift of nature belongs to all Earthlings, both the living and the souls of Futureworld.   

 

As always, I’d appreciate any comments, especially if you see what I’m trying to get at about consciousness when the cop says, “"Well, well, what have we here? You two haven't been smoking dope, have you?"  His wisecrack quip and bright flashlight shining in our eyes brought us from the sublime to the gutter. 

 

The mention of “philomathy,” the love of knowledge and wisdom, is the key, I feel, to the expansion and diffusion of consciousness.  Growing awareness of the world and how we got here is the magic key to unlock the mental cage that has confined mankind since the onset of agriculture.  Maybe someday people will love philomathy more than material­ism.  

 

The poem about the butterfly in the very last paragraph is devoted to Kafka. I think he would have enjoyed it and even loved it because it succinctly suggests the plight of the individual beneath the soldier’s boot of the police-state plutocracy.  Cross the line, and the state won’t even give you the time of day. 

 

To wit, the true story:  (I know it's a long post.  Just step into the cell with me.  We'll have some fun and you'll appreciate what I experienced and learn something about society.  I guarantee you'll love Kelly as I did.)   

 

DUI STORY

 

  



In no way am I condoning or advocating drinking and driving. In the fashion of the great Czech writer, Franz Kafka, I wish only to portray what happens to the individual under police-state conditions.

**************************************************************************

In jail for the first time... 51 years old, imagine. Look at this place. Must be the holding pen where they keep the pigeons ‘til bail’s posted. If you don't have the hard cash, you go in with the hard‑core prison population no matter how trivial the charge—like debtor's prison in the time of Charles Dickens. Unless, of course, your friends or relatives go see a bail bondsman and let him in on the action at an exorbitant interest rate. The system feeds on itself—more or more bloodsuckers jumping in at every turn. Otherwise, no money, you stay in the can.

What a down. Can barely believe it. Nothing to do, that's the problem...

Sit on the bunk bed, maybe... That’s the only decision you have to make, or not. That's it... Sit on the bed... Yes, makes sense... What a great idea!

What the fuck else am I gonna do? Not much sense staring at the other cells across the cement floor with all the stubby lines and circles painted in outré colors. The fronts of the cells look like tight chain-link fencing soaked in drab gray paint rather than old-fashioned iron bars. Can barely see anybody anyway, so what’s the point of even looking out? There’s a young black kid on the other side trying to tell a cop something; I don’t know whether he’s a gang member or a deaf mute trying to use sign language. Jesus, there’s a big clock above the U-shaped arrangement of cells, but I can’t see the time from this angle. The bastards won’t even give you the time and they confiscated my watch.  What did they take my watch for?  They afraid I’m gonna try to kill myself with it because I had more the two beers? 

Cellmate's asleep... wrapped in a grimy blanket with moth holes like a fast food burrito that the mice got to. Just lying there. Looks half dead. Big fuck. Wonder what he's in for. Better not wake him. Gotta be smart in here. Street smart. It'd be pretty stupid to wake this guy to ask him what he's in here for, that's for sure.

Man, just four hours ago you were in your favorite clothing-optional resort frolicking in the pool, cavorting with playful damsels, enjoying the royal palms, yellow lilacs and lavender lilies… Debbie looked so elegant with nothing on. What could be more personable, agreeable to mind and body, than a gracile nymphet teaching aerobics? She’s educating you on the importance of good health and feeling fit, and at the same time saturating your field of vision with curvy loveliness.

How about the guy from Key West with that loquacious parrot? You’d swear the feathery creature could speak conversational English. It had a larger vocabulary than some of the kids you grew up with. Nearly won the chip for a free drink in au natural water volleyball with Bonnie and Mandy and the rest of the crowd. Hadn't had so much fun since teen-age days in the Poconos. Remember?

Now you’re here, sitting on this bunk wondering what this big lug’s in for. Talk about change of reality. The only people that fell from heaven to hell this fast are O.J. Simpson, Kaddafi, and the Shah of Iran... Maybe Fatty Arbuckle in the ‘20s on that trumped up rape charge. Authorities proved his innocence decades later after they destroyed his life. Wonder what happened to him.

Remember that song, “What a difference a day makes—24 little hours”? What a difference a minute makes. One minute you're riding down the highway in a sparkling clean, jet black Cougar with Mafia‑tinted windows, listening to Puccini, happy as can be, sun­tanned, massaged and robust, healthy and feeling great, contem­plating how to be a soldier in the War to Save the Environment. The next minute you're a low life in jail.

So much for divine providence. Murphy's Law and Chaos Theory are the only designers of destiny.  That’s for sure.  Unless God's a prankster out to revenge every trivial peccadillo since Adam and Eve ate that stupid apple... For drinking a six‑pack of Michelob you’re in for the hassle of your life: months of expensive counseling, waiting in line at the DMV, license revoked, hours in court, hard-ass parole officers, listening to ex-offenders harangue you for being as stupid as they are.

Looks like he's waking up... He's not too big, about six feet. Hope he's not in here for any violent crimes, rape or something. Maybe he's a murderer... Nah, they wouldn't put me in with a hard‑core criminal. You’re just a drunk driver... never committed a crime, never had an accident, never been in jail. Look, Officer, I didn’t want to kill any babies; I just wanted to get home from the party. You expect me to walk home from Tampa ‘cause I drank some beer? Says 'Safe Driver' right on my license. They wouldn't...

There, look at that... Looks like a yellow traffic ticket sticking out of the big fuck’s pants pocket... Must've been drinking and driving too. They segregate all the drunks ‘cause they know we're not hard‑core criminals. Federal judges and high‑ranking clergymen probably get behind the wheel with more than two drinks every once in a while, fa Christ's sake. Upstate NY troupers found Police Commissioner Ward dead drunk asleep at the wheel on the side of the Thruway. He grunted when they tried to wake him up, “You can’t bust me; I’m the police commissioner.”  The event never even made the papers, but Vinnie O’Brian was there!  He told me about it.  What an outrageous insult to the American people; makes a mockery of the whole judicial system. 

There, he's waking up, rolling over and moaning after a night of nasty dreams... Talk to him. He looks all right. Had an acne problem as a teenager, that's for sure... and those teeth, looks like he brushes his teeth when he feel likes it, rather than at a set time during the day. Probably works as a truck driver, or a fast food order cook… It's Florida, man, who the hell you expect to meet in jail? A physics professor from Cal Tech. Talk to him... It's okay. He won't bite. Can always yell for help if he gets violent or crazy.  But the guards are probably in the office drinking coffee, eating doughnuts and reading the sports pages. They might not hear me... Better be careful.

"Hi man. Name's Rich Bozlicki. Looks like you and me are in here for the same thing."

Holy shit...  And he's a lot bigger than six feet... and he's got a scar on his neck! How the hell can you get a two‑inch scar by your Adam’s apple without getting killed? Oh, yea, that’s right, medical procedure, laryngeal disease.  But this is jail. He’s around 6’4”, deep-set black eyes and one of those death tattoos on his massive upper right arm, with RIP inscribed in a scroll wrapped around a sinister Gothic cross. He probably thinks I'm a dipshit. Maybe he's one of Mike Tyson's sparring partners, harmless except in the ring. Hope his name's not Bubba.

"Oh... really," he answers, placing his left hand akimbo, a mannerism I didn't expect from a rugged‑looking guy his size.

"Yeah, I was driving home from my favorite resort with a six pack of beer under my belt. Even had an open bottle of Mic in the driver's console. Was mad at all the cops and politicians that get busted for DUI and just flash their badges and drive off like nothing happened. Was listening to classical music, philosophizing about Gaia... the Mother Earth I mean, happy as can be. But I didn't realize how tired I was. Didn't get any sleep the night before...was working all night; couldn't fight off the fatigue. Somebody with a cell phone nailed me as soon as I strayed over the striped line from the middle lane. No accident, no reckless driving, just strayed over the center lane for a second and now I'm in jail. How about you, whad-ya in for?"

"Oh, they caught me blowing a guy under the lifeguard stand at Coquina Beach!"

"Oh! I see..." How the fuck do you act nonchalant? What the hell do you say now? Don't say a word, stupid. Just back up and sit on the bunk. That's it. Take that filthy pillow and bury your head in it.

There's the guard walking by... That's him, the strabismic fuck, Biles, the correction officer that brought you in here.

"Officer... Officer, can you help me a second? I need to call my wife on that payphone over there... to see how long it'll take her to get the $500 to bail me out. She doesn’t get out of work until the banks close, and the ATMs only dispense $200 max."

"Sure,” he answered with a friendly avuncular air. “Just let me go over to the other side to see what those guys want, then I'll come over here and get you, okay?"

You feel like kissing his hand and telling him how wonderful he is. You wanna tell ‘im. “Officer, can I kiss the tips of your shiny black shoes? Let me polish your badge for ya… I gotta get outta here before I go crazy. I’m an aesthete: I love Beethoven and the Louvre Museum, and the Yosemite National Park. Did you know Francisco Goya was the first artist to protest war?”

There he goes... over to the other side. He'll be right back to get me. Nydia will tell you she's got the bail money and she's on the way. You’ll be out of here in two hours. Free at last! Free at last! How can you last that long? Two whole hours!

Oh, no. He wouldn't... he just said... mothafucka... That cross‑eyed bastard is heading right for the guard's room to drink coffee, eat doughnuts and read the sports pages. They’re probably watching professional wrestling on a black and white TV. It's only been two minutes and he's forgotten me already. Who said, "Hell is where there is no reason"?1 

Don't say a word. You can't get depressed unless you let yourself get depressed. Just step over to the bunk and curl up in a nice tight fetal position and wait for your family to rescue you. That's all you can do. Let your consciousness leave your body and float above like a kite. Remember when you were driving a cab in NYC in college days? Whenever some obnoxious rowdy passengers got in, you’d just project your mind outside and let them yell and scream their heads off.  I’m on automatic pilot. 

That’s it… Your mind is floating at the ceiling. That’s your body down there. You’re just a hulk of flesh, a glob of protoplasm curled up on a wiry bunk bed. Look at that; there’re some teeth marks on the bedspring.  Never saw a bedspring with bite marks. 

“Go ‘head, ya fucks, do anything you want to me. That’s not me, I’m up here. Go ‘head, rape me. Beat the crap out of me. Club me with those stupid night sticks. Stick pins in me; pull my hair out. Feed me those repulsive bologna sandwiches with that slimy American cheese. I don’t give a damn because I’m up here. That’s just my bleary mass of a body—an inert half sack of rice with all the air out.”

You wish. Who ya kiddin’? Wouldn’t it be nice if you actually could do that? Just project our consciousness in the manner of Mishimashi Yogi. Nice try. You’ll try any crazy ruse when you’re desperate. There’re no atheists in a foxhole. If that cellmate of yours just looks at you tough, you’d piss in your pants.

That's right… Wrap this wormy gray blanket over your head and look out through the moth holes at the wall. That's all you can do... Lie still, so you look like a ghost or dead man. Just stare at that rectangular concrete slab covered with the drab tan paint. Just breathe slowly and deeply. Let yourself linger at the brink of consciousness. Breathe slowly... deeply; your eyelids are getting heavy... Just stare at the wall... That's all there is to do.

****************************************************************************

You’re in jail, but it’s not all that bad. Remember when you almost got busted in hippie days? Could've done some real time then... Remember? That cop caught you red‑eyed and red‑handed with a half ounce of African grass, right in your overcoat inner pocket. What an irony that with all the stuff I did in the '60s, that I'm in jail now 40 years later for doing a lousy six pack of beer.

It seems like yesterday... it must have been May, 1969—the days of the Electric Circus, Dylan, Woodstock and Timothy Leary. We were across the street from the Plaza Hotel by the Central Park wall at the corner of 59th Street and Fifth—right by the horse carriages. A wonderful farm smell pervaded the air as the doorman opened limo doors for chichi guests returning from a night on the town. Kelly Stiles and I were smoking a joint, waiting for John Donley to get off from driving his Hanson Cab around the park. It was prom time and Daisy had to trot around the 15‑minute bike path a lot of times to earn her oats.

What a beautiful time it was—spring, NYC in the deep night, 26 years old. Kelly was one of the most beautiful girls I'd ever seen. Looked like Ingrid Bergman trying not to cry in that great scene in For Whom the Bell Tolls, as Gary Cooper tells her that he'll never see her again, that she had to be brave, that she had to do the living for both of them. Makes you want to cry just thinking about it. Kelly had short brunette hair, though—only difference. She had that same angelic, child's face and graceful athletic body. She loved me deeply. The passion of youth is life's sweetest memory.

"Oh, Mr. Bozlicki, I can't believe we're here smoking this weed together; it seems like yesterday that I was in your biology class. Remember that silly uniform the nuns made us wear? I didn't even feel like a female. We were just obedient little clones." Her voice was feminine and sweet; she passed me the half‑smoked joint. "I can't get out of the habit of calling you Mr. Bozlicki; don't forget I had you for algebra and trig too... you were my teacher for three years."

"And now you're a fashion model on 7th Avenue, strutting up and down the catwalk and pouting wistfully, flaunting your yearning hazel eyes with 'eat your hearts out, boys!' And every guy and lesbian in the audience gets turned on. Now you're making more money than all of us."

"Human pin cushions; that's what we are.  I've got to change clothes about 10 to 12 times a day.  It's tough work. They don't pay us for nothing."

"You learned what I taught you," I responded, without letting any air out of my chest. "Hey, look at the squirrel staring at us in that oak over there. Think he smells the smoke? D'ya think squirrels get high? Make sure you blow the smoke over the wall so the squirrel gets a whiff and not somebody walking down the avenue."

"Oh, who cares? It's one o'clock in the morning in New York City. Anybody offended by a little grass is home in bed by now."

She unbuttoned my scruffy suede overcoat and snuggled her torso close to mine to capture some body heat from the chilly NYC breezes. I can still feel her firm cupcake-size breasts pressed upon my chest, as she wrapped her right arm tight around my waist and pulled the left half of my warm coat around her shoulders. Her steady andante heartbeat reminded me of Beethoven’s Moonlight. "I owe you so much!" she continued in the most sensual voice I've ever known. "You’ve changed my life. I was seriously thinking of becoming a nun, imagine. My Uncle Dominic almost had my parents convinced I should enter the Carmelite order. If I were in Mr. Plenari's Bio class instead of yours, I'd probably be wearing a habit right now."

I can still picture the catch‑me‑if‑you‑can, smiley, confident look on the squirrel's face; the grass helped me concentrate with the eye of a telephoto lens. Holding an acorn smugly in its forelimbs like a child propped up by the elbows in front of a TV set, the squirrel dug its hind claws securely into the trunk of the oak tree. I pointed to the old tree about ten yards away.

"That's a red oak, Kelly, genus Querus. The white oak doesn't have such pointy leaves. It's easy to tell the difference: the white oak has round, lobular leaves. The other American species is called 'live oak,' like the ones in Gone With the Wind. They're found only in the South—much more sprawling. Some are even shaped like a human brain, with the trunk of the tree simulating the human vertebral column. If people only realized how close we are to that tree at the biochemical level, the earth wouldn’t be in such peril now. We’d leave the Amazon Rain Forest alone. Remember? Did I ever teach you that in bio class? Humans should have a deep love for oaks, because there's a good chance that we evolved from Dryo­pithicus, the 'oak‑tree ape.' That's what Louis Leaky's Proconsul was, the parent of all the great apes. We feel comfortable and happy just being near oak trees. Gibbons, their closest living progeny, were actually heard singing love songs to their mates. This may be why music sounds so soothing to us. But a lot of paleontologists believe Ardipithecus was the parent hominid—"2

Dropping the roach by our feet, Kelly began gently kissing my neck and I could feel the heat of passion rushing through our arteries.

I tried to continue undistracted, "Mr. Plenari taught bio class from the point of view of Creationism. How about the wasp that paralyzes its grasshopper prey, then lays its eggs in the abdomen of the helpless creature? We don’t know the level of consciousness of the grasshopper, but does that sound like the work of a Beneficent Designer? What a joke. Any bio teacher who doesn't teach evolution is a phony. To teach biology is to explain the story of evolution, period. We grew out of the planet just like that squirrel over there. The atoms that make up our bodies were once parts of exploding stars. We’re so lucky to be what we are. If the dinosaurs didn't extinct exactly when they did, mammalia never would have radiated into the vacated environment. If people could only realize how wonderful it is to be human, how lucky we are, we'd all be living for this life—like John Lennon says. People wouldn't treat each other so badly, wouldn't waste so much time; we'd live to have fun and appreciate the fact that we're ephemerons, like mayflies. Remember what I taught you about mayflies, when we studied entomology—"

"Screw the mayflies," she interrupted again, pressing her firm breast closer into me, looking into my eyes with burning passion. "What did you teach us about sex? That's what I forgot. Tell me again."

"That we’re custodians of our genes. That genes control much of our behavior. And genes function only to replicate the information they carry. There could be ten billion people by the end of the century and our genes would still be urging us to procreate more. Genes don't care about the individual and they don't care about the species."3

"And what about the place of sex in our lives?"

“That sex is the greatest trade‑off in the history of the planet. If sexual reproduction didn't evolve, and asexual reproduction continued, we wouldn't have to die. Nature sacrificed the individual so the species can vary from one generation to the next, so life can adapt to the changing environment. Being we have to pay just a high price for sex, our very existence, we should enjoy every second of it. Next to our career and family, sex should be the most important part of our lives. Orgasm is the only moment in our lives when the ego dissolves into the collective subconscious and we feel God‑like euphoria, what the Buddhists call satori."

Kelly passionately grabbed a fistful of my shoulder-length hair and turned my face toward her hazel eyes. "Oh, Rich, take me home this minute and fuck me while I still have this glorious high. I love you deeply; you've done so much for me. You've taught me so many wonderful things, you've made me a philomath. Once we reject organized religion, love of learning and hope for humanity is all we have left.”

 

She averted her eyes toward the red oak. “You know, the girls at work think I'm weird because I'm reading Oedipus Rex during lunch. Here Sophocles was an Athenian general during the Peloponnesian War and still had time to become one of the world's greatest playwrights. You know how tough you had to be in the Greek army—and he was a general. Now, they think I'm strange because I make the time to read his plays. I think they're strange for knowing so much about TV sitcoms and movie stars, and so little about Sophocles.”

I can still feel her moist breath on my cheeks, as I focused on her Ingrid Bergman lips. “Remember the verse from The Merchant of Venice you were into last year? Tonight is such a night.”

(I picked up on the tread and tried to speak as softly and sweetly as I could out of respect for the beauty and melodic flow of the verse,)

The moon shines bright: In such a night as this,
When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees
And they did make no noise, in such a night
Troilus methinks mounted the Trojan walls,
And sigh’d his soul toward the Grecian tents,
Where Cressida lay that night.

(For the moment she was my sweet Jessica, as chilly Manhattan breezes nipped at our ears. She followed in that sweet feminine voice.)

In such a night
Did Thisbe fearfully o’erstrip the dew,
And saw the lion’s shadow ere himself,
And ran dismay’d away.

(The words flowed so easily; I remembered the lines without trying.)

In such a night
Stood Dido with a willow in her hand
Upon the wild sea-banks, and wav’d her love
To come again to Carthage.

(I knew I couldn’t out-night my exuberant Kelly.)

In such a night
Did Kelly seduce the naive Rich Bozlicki to Astoria
Where she sucked his dick, till he came with sighs of sweet ecstasy.

Right then... the timing couldn't have been better. I'd forgotten about the joint Kelly dropped on the ground minutes before. A flashlight glared in our eyes, and we squinted trying to see what the hell was going on. The fall from the sublime to the contemptible only takes a second.

There was one of New York City's Finest with the callous grin of a Cheshire cat ravishing a mouse in its claws. A close‑shaven, crew‑cut head was sticking out of an impeccably clean and pressed police uniform, scanning Kelly's lissome body and peering into her eyes, looking for redness so he could be sure we were the ones who dropped the roach. His collar appeared a little tight, so his face flushed pinker than his hands.

 

"Well, well, what have we here? You two haven't been smoking dope, have you?"

"Oh no, Officer," I came back as strongly as I possibly could with a half ounce of ganja in my inner coat pocket. This is one of the few instances in my life when I felt justified in deliberately lying, yet angry that I had to sacrifice my personal integrity. To tell the truth would've been unforgivably stupid. To say: "Oh, yeah, Officer, of course we were smoking this great grass. Care for a toke?" would be a reply an inveterate masochist wouldn't make. Answering the question truthfully would mean the bureaucratic hassle of a lifetime. The point is: the laws of New York State are not only making criminals of its citizens—there’s more than two million souls wasting away in jail as I speak—but even contemptible liars. If they locked up every person in the state that ever smoked a joint illegally, there’d be more people in jail than out in the streets. In the state of Georgia it's illegal to have oral sex, even with one's spouse. A couple with a natural and healthy sexual desire becomes criminal and deviant by fulfilling a natural, victimless, harmless, stress-relieving and pleasurable need. The laws make hypocrites of its citizens as well.

 

Not only hypocrites, but outright criminals.  More than 80% of men in the country admit to using the services of a prostitute at least once in their life.  The law makes our country a nation of criminals. 

This was a tiny bit of marijuana by my standards—grass that I use for my own private religious purposes, because I feel physically closer to nature. It helps me realize the squirrel and I are in the same class of vertebrates, mammalia. In the most basic religious sense, I believe that humanity is an outgrowth of nature—at the molecular level.  We’re related to the universe at the atomic level—the heavy atoms of our body were formulated in the cores of stars billions of years ago! 

 

I am what I am because the universe is what it is. Humans evolved to fit a niche of nature, and I appreciate and enjoy this fact. And this prick, this defender of morality, who probably likes to go to hockey games and smack his kids around so that other kids won't smack them around, by law has the right to assume that I’m a criminal and that I'm going to sell the stuff. I'd just as soon sell my Richard Tucker- autographed libretto of Aida that I waited hours by the Met stage door to acquire. Catholics worship a man who was executed as a criminal, kneel down to kiss rotting bones and sacred rings, and drink symbolic blood—not just transmogrified wine, but through the miracle of transubstantia­tion, real half‑human blood!—and I'm considered weird, because I like to get high and swim sans bathing suit in the great Panthalassic Ocean where all life began. 

Just that moment, as I squinted painfully in the intrusive beam of light, John, who had brought Daisy back to the stable on West 87th Street and had finally gotten off from work, came jauntily strolling down Fifth to the scene of the crime. He spotted Kelly and me trying to keep our composure, with the police officer leaning over us and nervously rapping his nightstick in the palm of his free hand. John stood there, a full 6’6,” wearing a Civil War overcoat that General Pierre Beauregard would've felt comfortable in when he started the Civil War, tawny hair parted in the middle down to his shoulders, lumber boots, and John Lennon, round‑brim, rose‑colored sunglasses at night. Knowing he was clean, he lumbered up to the cop and smiled beguilingly: "C’mon, Officer, do we look like the type that would be smoking grass on Fifth Avenue in the middle of the night?"

The cop jerked his head back, as if he'd just received the painful communication that he just lost his favorite gun. He looked down at the simmering roach a yard away from my shoes. "All right, you two, get lost... right now," he demanded, nodding to John and me to take off toward the 59th Street Subway Station, as if he knew we lived in Astoria. With the grass in my pocket I could do nothing but obey, but John protested, "You don't have authority to make us leave our friend."

"Shut up or I'll run the three of you down to Chambers Street right now. You'll wind up in the House of Detention before the night's over. I just want to talk to the young lady a minute."

"Come on, John," I urged with a cowardly tremor in my voice. I knew we could walk off, then watch to see that nothing happened to Kelly. We could always call the police, if the prick tried anything. At least we'd be away with the incrimin­ating evidence. 

When we got to the entrance of the subway, we turned around to observe the cop approaching Kelly. The Crusaders of Baldwin of Flanders, who massacred in the name of God thousands of defenseless civilians of Jerusalem during the First Crusade, couldn't have looked more lustful than this cop, as he approached my sweet darling.

"What's a nice attractive girl like you doing out this late with a worthless bum like him?" He nervously kept tapping his nightstick against his thigh, like a kid who had to take a desperate piss. He seemed to be putting on a coquettish demeanor, as if to say: 'Come on baby, why don't you get yourself a real man?' Can't you see he's nothing but a no‑good hippie? You oughtta be out with somebody more respectable, more manly."

"I'm over 18. You have no right to be giving me advice. That bum happens to be my former science teacher in high school. He's taught me everything from the trigonometric identities to the evolutionary radiation of early ape-men during the early Pleistocene. He's taught me knowledge your grandchildren will never learn. So, please get out of my way and don't try to stop me. My father's a lawyer; you better have a more substantial charge other than that lousy roach on the ground that anybody might have thrown."

Kelly determinedly slipped through the free space between the park wall and the cop, ran over to us, and we embraced like we had just scored the tie-breaking goal at the World Cup. John whistled for a cab and the cop stood on the corner, scratching his head with a bewildered look…

The dull brown rectangular slab of concrete was still there. All I could do is stare helplessly and reminisce with the dreams of an old man. I am a fly trapped helplessly in a spider web of red tape; I thought I was a butterfly! Twice these upholders of the law and morality have broken into my life's most sublime, wondrous moments with their glaring lights and sirens. At last, they finally got me where I belong for my heretical beliefs. Maybe grass does congeal the billion and a half neurons of my fabulous brain, like eggs on a frying pan.

NOTES

1. This is a line from Francis F. Coppola's movie, Apocalypse Now, describing the conditions in Viet Nam at the end of the war.

2. Hominoid: The term refers to the great apes plus the hominids, our early ape-man ancestors including the Australopithecines and the first human species, Homo habilis and H. erectus. Proconsul was a hominoid.

3. This event happened seven years before Richard Dawkins’ illustrious and important book, The Selfish Gene, was published in 1976.

 

 

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Comment by Richard Goscicki on September 28, 2012 at 2:05pm

Glen, It's amazing how relevant the poem is in terms of Netanyahu's latest press releases, concerning the “red line” where he held up his cartoon drawing.  I’d like to see the poem go viral on Facebook and Twitter because it’s “spot on” describing the mentality.    

The tweet I’m going to send friends is, “Send this poem to everyone you know before these religious assholes destroy the world.” 

The poem says it all.  They both “need a bomb,” because they’re more concerned with politics, personal power and religion than human and environmental needs on the planet. 

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on September 28, 2012 at 12:48pm

I thought magog was the name of an ancient god. Or maybe it is something that sounds similar to magog. That poem is right on time. Richard I still think you are crazy. Normal is boring anyways.

Just heard how Arkansas was added to the list of medical mj legalization.

Comment by Richard Goscicki on September 28, 2012 at 12:05pm

Glen, just so you don’t think I’m crazy, the “GOG AND MAGOG,” is a quote from a favorite poet of mine back in the ‘60s.  That is the closing line of this enlightening poem called “Hum Bom” which is more relevant now than when he wrote it.  Catch the line, “They thought they had a bom.”  It’s so relevant it’s scary.  “They needed a bom.” 

 

What makes the poem great is that it catches the mentality I tried to describe earlier in our conversation.  “Tell me when, Lord.  Tell me when.” 

 

 

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on September 26, 2012 at 2:01pm

RG, that was entertaining. Lester seems like a mensch. The hypocrisy of american drug policy is so evident as to be a non-issue. By the way have read recently some negative junk on marijuana, something negative for pregnancies and something about brain development in kids and maybe some form of cancer. But whatever the reality is how can you equate the negatives of mj with tobacco and alcohol?

Did not know that Carl Sagan was high when he was writing Cosmos. But now the "billions and billions" makes sense in context! I also remember now reading Contact. He must have been high when he scribbled that too. Thought it was a bit inartful but he really expanded my imagination. Good read.

I have some books ahead of me but I might just look in the mirror for a reversal.

Comment by Richard Goscicki on September 26, 2012 at 9:27am

I became friends with Lester Grinspoon of Harvard around 15 years ago and I’m proud to say I’m part of the medical marijuana movement.  Lester recently emailed me that Connecticut just became the 15th state to legalize.  I’m mentioning this because Lester and Carl Sagan were the best of friends and it was Carl that turned Lester on during a sea cruise to Europe for a conference.  I asked Lester to do a radio interview with a friend of mine in Vancouver about mj where he tells the story.  Lynn Thompson my friend was thrilled to have the dean of Harvard Medical School as her guest and since then the podcast has had thousands of hits.  Here’s the link if you have some time.  Very educational and not propagandistic at all. 

 

I read almost all of Carl’s work.  What made him great is that he was a philomath who had the ability to inspire the love of science.  I bet you didn’t know he often got high when writing Cosmos. 

 

Kelpies were Irish/Scottish river horses that would lure children to the river bank and pull them down to the underworld in the fashion of Odysseus’ sirens.  Albs are mile-high hats that popes wear to make them look big and grandiose—all part of the boogety-boo.  The point of that list is how the human mind is filled with garbage and it causes a lot of damage.  That’s a main theme of Mirror Reversal—hence the leprechauns on the cover.  Click on the “Atheist Novel” on the right to see it.  Take W. Bush talking to God and consequently invading Iraq.  I hate to even think about somebody like Sarah Palin or Mike Huckabee getting in there.  Mitt Romney as part of Mormonism believes he and his wife will become gods of their own little universe when they die (I couldn’t make this up!).  I can in picture either of these characters crying in the fashion of Jimmy Swaggart, “TELL ME WHEN, LORD.  TELL ME WHEN…” do I push the red button and kill that anti-Christ muddafukka.  GOG AND MAGOG, GOG AND MAGOG. 

 

Americans are culturally deprived, methinks.  More about that later. 

 

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on September 25, 2012 at 9:41pm

Thanks for the thumbs up. Enjoying conversation too.

Haven't read Sagan but I watched his specials. Great popularizer of science and an infectious enthusiasm for it. Oh wait, did he write Cosmos? I did read that. Kelpies and albs?

Yeah I think evolutionary biology is the tits. I also think we are on the verge of a scientific revolution. Predicting the direction of civilization is near impossible. In my study of history and understanding of human nature cant help but feel no good will come to humanity as we are spinning out of the turn and heading for the finish line.

So for you spiritual means aesthetic and ethereal? Or is it the notion that the universe is not purely deterministic, matter in motion? I reserve judgment as to theoretical physics. In thirty years, barring catastrophe, our understanding of the universe will be far different. Dont feel like I am going on top of a sky scraper with that extrapolation.

Okay I watched the video. Guess I am a barbarian, did not do it for me. I do however love that painting by Goya-the scene is palpable.

Comment by Richard Goscicki on September 25, 2012 at 12:47pm

 

I’m certainly enjoying this conversation.  You have a sincere interest in and talent for biology.  I consider it the most important study of all; biology is what we are.  If humans are ever going to be free of the mental cage of religion and mythology, it’s evolutionary biology that will provide the key. 

 

If you’ve read any of my previous writing, I’m very appreciative of Carl Sagan, whom I consider the greatest educator of the century.  So to your question:  I am spiritual but not religious? What the hell does that phrase mean? Carl’s answer is that mankind needs a religion based on the revelation of science.  My Mirror Reversal is based on this thesis.  Leaders have to free our “belief space” from the memes of ghosts, goblins, incubi and succubi, holy water, holy relics, baptismal fonts, scapulas, morning prayers, Doom’s Day, Gog and Magog, bones to kiss, jinns and kelpies, albs, inner sanctums, and let’s not forget the fucking Bible and Koran.  Just as the genome is mostly non-coding parasitic hangers-on, people’s minds are choke full of “memetic junk.”  (A term I made up for the MR glossary.) 

 

But Darwinism and anti-supernaturalism do have a silver lining.  We’re not just cold calculating, predatory animals that Hitler surmised.  There are areas of science and the universe that defy logic, predictability and the natural laws.  There are what’s called singularities (inside an atom, the Big Bang itself, and inside a Black Hole) where there are no physical laws.  Anything goes. 

 

As a lover of classical music and the arts I see mankind at the most sublime.  It’s been my contention all along that once humans control population growth, we will have broken out of the confines of the Prime Directive and the spiritual world will open up to us.  We’ll cease to be just another animal capable of the atrocities we read in the daily papers and history books.  Control of birth rates will enable us to live in harmony with nature that gave rise to us.  As you can readily see in my Vale Mine photo, it’s not happening now.

 

Afterthought:  I offer this video of the arts as evidence that mankind is capable of spirituality.  Darwinism is justified up to a point.  In the finale the Merry Widow and Count Denato realize they are in love.  Lisa Pavane, the prima ballerina of the Sidney Ballet, the goddess, literally defies gravity. 

 

Glen, your italicized question is tough to answer.  This is the best I could do.

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on September 24, 2012 at 10:44pm

RG, my half mad, half brilliant uncle says that digression is the oxygen of intelligence. Guy's got more aphorisms than Ben Franklin.

So life on earth first undergoes a protracted "organization" and once the ability to replicate genetic information is in place a shorter period to get to annelids and arthropods and from there life rockets on the evolution bus in the cambrian explosion. A mere sixty million years ago dinosaurs said goodbye making room for explosion of mammals. And the stages of life, I think the so called ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny occur in-utero. Or God did it all and it all started six thousand years ago.

Reality is so much more abstruse and mind-blowing than dogma. If you feel as I do does it mean I am spiritual but not religious? What the hell does that phrase mean? And how da hell does a student of biology remain religious?

Comment by Richard Goscicki on September 24, 2012 at 8:58pm

Glen, we’re digressing a little but still fun to discuss.  You’re bringing me back to the stuff I used to teach Kelly in bio class in my story.  I’ve been out of the field a long time but it’s still enjoyable to discuss it. 

 

That is why I am curious about life forming in the deep seas without light and photosynthesis.

 

Photosynthesis came much later after the early replicators appeared.  Light wasn’t needed at all and might have had a destabilizing effect.  The earliest life was most likely anaerobic chemo­synthesizers, and hydrogen sulfide from deep oceanic vents the initial energy source rather than sunlight.  This seems plausible because the Hadean (or Azoic) Era lasted around a billion years and the surface of the planet was still pretty hostile and turbulent. 

 

What’s important to realize is that it took over a billion years for prokaryotes (kary = nut in Greek) to evolve into eukaryotes or cells with a localized nucleus and nuclear membrane.  This development stabilized the genetic information and made multicellularity possible.  So it took from 3600 million years ago, to just 640 mya before early worms, coelenterates (jellyfish) and arthropods arrived.  Life then proliferated 540 mya in what's called the Cambrian Explosion, once all the ingredients were in place, especially oxygen.

 

Amazingly, it took twice as long to go from a bacterium to a protozoan, than it took a human to evolve from a jawless fish!  This is something to contemplate:  According to Dawkins, if you go back 300 million years and point to any bony fish, that fish will be the ancestor of all terrestrial animal life or none—and that includes koala bears, giraffes, mice, dinosaurs, hippos and humans.  We even pass through a fish stage in utero gestation; at one point in everybody’s life he/she had gills!

 

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on September 24, 2012 at 7:49pm

RG, I guess viruses are now included in the kingdom of life. If I was selling creationism I would argue that there is only one path for life to follow and that the ingredients and recipe are specific because of god's hand. Will we ever know whether there is only one path to genesis? That is why I am curious about life forming in the deep seaswithout light and photosynthesis. If there is only one formula and all of those conditions are necessary might there be another formula in another universe? The more we learn the more questions we have. Truly we see only the shadows created by the fire in the cave.

Just read how scientist have recently manipulated a worm's neurons to control its behavior and sensations. As exciting as that is it probably portends an ultimate misuse on first higher animals and then man. But it strikes me that the problem with humans is humanness; be it government, religion, war, even personal relationships. Parts of our brain or their integration causes us to fail. Manipulation on a biological level could change everything. I am rambling at this point. Out.

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