Thursday, February 17, 2011

Just Listening

Brovic - Blogging Since 1903

KHUK KHAK, Thailand - I'm looking through my address book, wondering who can relate to Skeeter Davis. Or Archie Bell and the Drells. Booker T. & the MGs? Trying to avoid, 'remember when..?' There is just no end to oldies on UTube. The Chambers Brothers.

Did you know Skeeter had a thpeech impediment? 'Don't Thay No'?

Notes. All I've got here is just notes, to be expanded upon later.

Thoughts - You ever have 'em? This was going to be the working title, but was discarded because do you say?...peacepoor.

You'll soon be given many new freedoms; The first is your 'Freedom to Listen'.

Wull, wh...wh...what about freedom of speech?

Don't worry about freedom of speech. Just listen!

Like Lupe's God told him in ceremony, "PUT...the drum...DOWN! DON'T...touch ANYthing! Just LISTEN!"

' stop bothering me. I already know what you're going to ask for. Same as before. An don't sing. Just sit there. Sit there and just listen.'

Like now. Just listen to those songbirds.


Have you noticed, or is it just me? I don't know whether to call it outright thievery or what, but Big Time, Big Name, Big Speak copy-cat journalists are ripping me off for my ideas and passing them off as their own ('s something everybody does, isn't it?), same same cotton gin.

I'm seeing my work pop up in other people's material, without attribution or reference. You read the 'Times', 'The Nation', 'Truthout', or 'Democracy Now'? Check the editorials. You watch UTube? You Twit? Hangout on FB? See anything familiar? Reckanise it when you see it? It's not so much the ideas, but style, because you want the CAFs* to float.

It's the style. Maybe we're all on the same page, the same frequency, the same download. People never broke the rules like that. People didn't use to write like that, talk like that, think like that. You see it? Corks and bullshit ain't the only things that float. You can't contain an idea. Once it's 'out there', anything is up for fucking grabs. Lookit Egypt.

Same as artwork. You place some pieces in a few high-end galleries, and next thing you know, every artist and his momma is slapping roadkill on their work and calling it authentic. Don't beeleemee 'bout dat? Ask Misty about her turtles. Great idea, design-wise, but she got beat to the punch at Denver March Pow Wow by the Japanese.

So it's more than likely a combination of the two; people are exploitative thieving liars, and ideas are floating around, waiting to be hatched. ESP just a flip away. This wasn't going to be a 'remember when' exercise, but remember when people used to use the internet? And cell phones? Pony Express of the tech age. Implant me now with your newest version...super-size that dog...and give me a Pick Six lotto ticket.


My friend and Thai businessman, Sewitt, invited me to eat with him at a local Thai funeral, a week-long affair, and since many Thai live right alongside the roads, a section is set off with triangular markers with flashing red lights indicating a funeral.

You're supposed to slow down, since oftentimes trucks and motorbike parking consumes half the highway. In the country, you'll see rows of blue plastic seating and the canopy extending to the middle of the road.

Folks will begin to gather at about seven o'clock and stay for several hours, eating, and then listening to one of several monks from the local temple deliver a...presentation?...and mantras each night over a portable speaker system.

An army of staff runs the kitchen under large heavy-duty plastic tents and serves the public for several days at rows of tables; four days to a week, I think, depending on...what, I'm not sure. A dozen or so monks sit up front each evening in the first row of plastic seating, opposite the body, in an elaborately carved white casket on a raised platform, adorned with large plastic bouquets, tiny colored flashing lights, and big pre-made paper mache' lotus flower burial decorations about the size of a modest portrait, the significance of which I am ignorant. 'We're Sorry For Your Loss', I think.

After the wake, the feeds and everything, they load the family, friends, the casket, the person inside, and all those decorations onto a large flatbed truck and cart the whole shebang off in a slightly less than carnival entourage to the local temple, where they set off a thousand firecrackers ending with a BIG BANG to ward off the evil spirits, and then run the body into a kiln, and there you have it; up in smoke. The casket and decorations get used again.

Like the flowers, you go buy the decorations. Same place you get the orange 'buddha buckets', the plastic-wrapped monk bucket gift set with soap, hand towel, instant coffee, snacks, sweets, and other sanctioned goodies, especial for the monk. The Muslims call them (Thai monks) 'freeloaders'.

Sewitt wasn't there when I arrived, so after parking the bike I was escorted gingerly by the elbow by an old man usher/parking volunteer who led me to a table of Thai men who offered me to join them. I say 'gingerly' because he watched me take the first two shaky steps after getting off the bike, and seemed to treat me like an old man.

Taking a cue from other arrivals, I greeted the old lady with a silent smile and feather handshake, mouthing 'mama' into her watery but lucid eyes. She smiled back and welcomed me to eat. The men at the table said non-verbally, 'pull up a chair, join us', and pushed in front of me bowl after bowl of chicken, pork, fish, salad, greens, rice and water.

Sewitt showed up with what looked like a couple of bodyguards, and made his way around the tables shaking hands. People deferred to him, but not in the same way as me or the monks. 'I didn't know that dude was mafia,' I thought.

He came over and shook hands, greeting the men at the table. I pointed at my wrist and said I showed at seven, like he told me. "Sorreee," he said, his eyes darting around the room. Our table eventually dissipated and when I rose to stretch and have a smoke, Sewitt came over and said, "Sit down!", pulling out a chair for me in the group seating in front of the deceased, whom I didn't know, but recognized folks from the community.

I sat listening to the monk on the speaker, among fifty people sitting with their hands in prayer at their chests. Some of the people in the back were chatting casually amongst themselves while others appeared to be hanging on every word of the talk and mouthed the mantras.

The kitchen was still serving new arrivals. Sewitt sat eating off to the side with another group of men, all dressed in black. As darkness fell, two uniformed men with flashing batons slowed the traffic between the flashing red and white triangular funeral markers out on the highway. I sat just listening, not understanding anything of what was being said.

A clustered fan of motorbikes four rows deep had me hemmed in, and I had to jockey around with the help of a parking attendant upon departure. It wasn't the first Thai funeral I'd attended. Maybe the fifth or sixth. Thai people will often invite you to the feeds, even if they don't know you. 'Come eat,' they say.

Nevertheless, it always feels a bit awkward, probably not unlike a foreigner or a white person being plopped down on some gymnasium bleachers at an Indian funeral where you don't know the deceased, or anybody, and don't know the lingo they're speaking, and everything is dazzling and colorful and you're pretty much just looking and listening.

Like floating in the Sea. Just you and the sea, floating on your back in a heavy salt water solution, trying, trying really really hard to not do anything, all sound muffled to your respiration, heartbeat, and water slapping against your skull, an infinitesimal microbe in the hemoglobin of Mother Earth, dendrites of God's brain, and if a massive solar eruption of electrons should sizzle me, I'd just have to be okay with that.

Along with millions of other Earthlings on, in, near, or composed of water. If instantaneous worldwide shift in life at the cellular level should occur, then one might suppose water may play a role.

Floating...just floating, like in're thinking, 'womb', right? No, because the womb was too stuffy, claustrophobic and alcohol-laced. Not a place to stretch your legs. The Sea is much more expansive and embracing. Floating, like a...cork...a human cork. Just you and the Sea. Where the Sea just lets you be your own person.

Floating, like on acid, except for the head trip, the hallucinations, the body rush, the euphoria, paranoia, clarity, confusion, pulsing hands, flashbacks, hooking up with Jimi and sweeping out all the cobwebs from here to throughout all eternity.

Other than that, it's about the same, out-of-body experience-wise.

No, wait. Hodup once.

Floating in the Sea isn't anything at all like an acid trip. Just the floating sensation.

No destination other than nirvana. Just floating. In 'the zone'...which could be anywhere I suppose; on a slope, a precipice, in a pew, on your knees, upside down, daily work, in a sweat, your garden, a poet's retreat, holiday camp...whatever, offering a fragmented but acute glimpse of a timeless sense of self, using a whole nuth...a whole different part of the, the brain doesn't have anything to do with it**...a whole different part of who you really be.


Sometimes you've just got to shake your head and smile, ala Ronald Reagan:

To a visiting guest, I pointed out a beautiful four-year old coconut palm out front of the house: "I planted that coconut tree there four years ago."

As if Hoosiers would know anything about coconuts, my guest, from Indiana, corrected me: "That's not a it?"

"Were you listening?" I asked.

- end

*Cliches, Aphorisms & Figures of Speech

**They (the people who ran the trials) said I scored 'above average' on the RIT Test, the rodent intelligence test. It's okay to tell people. I brag about it all the time. I've already told a bunch of people. They, those guys, said I was a genius on their scale, comparatively speaking. Upon hearing this, I jumped forward in my seat, pumped my fist and shouted, "Alright!", but they, those people on the team, just looked at each other with a dumbfounded expression on their faces. Maybe they've been around rats too long, ha. That's what I said to them, laughing, still electrified from the news of their test results, and then I said, "Maybe you guys should move on to monkeys!"

I was still laughing until one of them said seriously, "Maybe we should explain to you the test evaluations in further detail, and what we mean by 'comparative'."