October 11, 2014

As Above, So Below Me

The night is broken up into small sections of almost sleep and almost dreaming so that when morning finally comes, it is almost a relief.  My first thought upon waking and perhaps it was the first thought of all men, is what is the origin of the word(s) blow job/ blowjob?

With my trusty God in my Hand (now running on less than 10% battery) I google this curiousity.  I am directed to sites that upon clicking, try to take me to places I do not want to go.  To sites that try to download, install or convert my God in Hand to their own nefarious devices.  Finally, I find the answers at answers.com.  Note to self: if I want to find myself, go to myself.com.  If you want to find God, go to god.com.  I digress.
And I confess that this post will mostly be about digressions, unless it will be about transgressions.  I transgress.

As in sleep, so as in thinking.  Blowjobs or BJs as they henceforth will be called to reduce my cramping of the wrists, and dulling of the fingertips, came from, I mean derive from either a) below jobs, as in As above, so below ( below contracting to express itself as blow); b) some deriviation on jazz flute studies; c) a crossover from gay culture, soldier culture, gun culture, i.e. Happiness is a Warm Gun; d) the Dutch - who besides being great cleaners, were of course the original traders, drawing links between sausages, pipes and "pippen", meaning trouser legs, or pipe-cleaners, meaning an act of someone cleaning the trouser legs with someone's tongue, or once again, playing the pipes as in fluted reverence, but not a reference to the Scots or bagpipes, because that is a tea bag of a different color; e) E is for e-commerce, ego, and the question on everyone's mind, which is to blow or to suck; f) a convoluted joke about Honolulu and Casablanca, the joke centering on the shape that the mouth makes when saying said words ( I know that all readers who are still with me here are now mouthing those words and realizing that there is a curl of the tongue with Honolulu and an opening of the throat with Casablanca; g) Casablanca - which the Masters of Film will debate as the best film of all time featuring Ingrid Bergman - who instructs us that a kiss is just a kiss, and the how-to is to put our lips together and blow ( and really, is that kind of kiss just a kiss?), and speaking of Kiss, we know that Gene Simmons is an asshole and that he has a long tongue, well, nevermind (Ass Above, Ass below) ; h) Casa blanca translates to White House, which Goes like a Building on Fire to Monica Lewinsky, Clinton and Cigars in the Oval Office (where were Nixon's surveillance tapes when we needed them?); i) if a morning wood falls in the forest, is it really a sound or more of a song?; j) Christopher Hitchen's article in Vanity Fair from 2006 As American as Apple Pie, which with the advance of the God in Hand apple device can now read As Apple as American Pie - all male writers now proceed to http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2006/07/hitchens200607 ( please do come back, as the girls in France say); k) Hitchens takes us to Hermeticism and the phrase As Above, So Below, now reconstructed as As Above the Belt, so Below the Belt; l) Hermeticism taking us to The Magician and the tarot, which is good fortune and there is no better fortune than a BJ in the morning; m) This Morning Wood  is brought to you by the Letter M as in mmmmm, or M&M (melts in your mouth not in your hand) or Mickey Mouth (famous Vietnamese hooker during War we would all rather forget); n) Nabokov who remarks," Knowing the magic and might of her own soft mouth, she managed....." (you don't think I am going to quote the whole book now do you?);  O) which is a story in and of itself, in fact for the dense out there, is called The Story of O, and o) also now being an emoticon that we can all get our mouths and minds around; p) everyone needs a p especially in the morning; q) if you are minding your p's, you better not forget your q's ; r) Arr, R, the original raw, rah-rah reference point, as in doing it in the raw (all the boys on the football team loved her, cause she was so very hard to beat, they all loved and respected her, but she thought of them as raw meat- rah rah rah meat, rah rah rah meat ( dense milt lyric from god knows when); s) for sibilant, the s sound hisses and herrs, it purrs and it sucks (but does it blow?); t) is the cross, is the trinity As Above, So Below evoking a lifetime of priests prostrating themselves and their supplicants, in the beginning was the Word, and the word was good, and the word was Blow (as in blow me down, matey/ shiver me timbers, I said Timber as the morning wood fell, no Tim-bits here, just a Double Double); u) how can we talk about BJs without talking about u?  ; v) V is so  very very close to VJ which was not the day the Japanese surrendered but surely or Shirley the day I surrendered to Shirley in the booth in the back in the corner in the dark; w) Who,What,Where and Why? sounding like a law firm, or an invitation to a philosophical discussion featuring the former President of the United States, Dollar Bill and his dear wife, the former Miss Rodham (I am sure he calls her that in the privacy of their surveillance); x) XXX- the original Deep Throat - apparently it all is related to breathing out to relax the back of the throat, hence the "blowing"; y) If after going through the whole alphabet you are going to ask me Y?, then you should be checking your Facebook and cleaning your bathroom, or taking out the evening's trash in the morning; z) Zzzzz's- if I had got enough of the zzzz's, I wouldn't have awakened and would not have had the thought pop up in my mind of what is the origin of the word(s) blow job, and none of this would have happened, it would all have been a dream, a horrible horrible dream, well maybe not so horrible, but definitely damp, in fact almost wet that dream was, and what a dream that wet dream was, and Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn't Fuzzy, was he?  

September 30, 2014

Autumn leaves a sign of levity?

The Autumn Leaves

The falling leaves
Drift by my window
The falling leaves
Of red and gold

I see your lips
The summer kisses
The sunburned hands
I used to hold

Since you went away
The days grow long
And soon I'll hear
Old winter's song

But I miss you most of all
My dear
When autumn leaves
Start to fall

Since you went away
The days grow long
And soon I'll hear
Old winter's song

But I miss you most of all
My dear
When autumn leaves
Start to fall

Fall is here. You can hear the leaves rustling, you can see the leaves hustling.  A leaf becomes leaves.
Becomes leavings.  Remains of the day.   A new leaf is a new start.  A leaf in the table is what makes the table larger and longer and helps us to invite more people to enjoy the feast of Harvest.

All of these words coming from similar roots.  Leaves, leaving, leavings, left out, left over, leftovers, levity.   Levain.  Leaven.  Leavening.  That which helps us to rise, a fermentation that creates gas, escaping, as gas always does.

Maybe the monkeys didn't go to heaven.  Maybe they went to leaven.  Rising up, transforming from a solid first, to a liquid, then to a gas, rise leaven.   The "proof" is in the pudding, but really the proof is in the leavening.   Once a baker, always a baker.

Another week goes by and we say goodbye once again to another friend.  The only thing that is certain is being left behind.  You will always be left behind, until that day when you leave everyone behind yourself.  Transforming from a solid, to a liquid, then gas, rising, escaping, one way out.  No take backs.

Take a Leave.  Have a time out.  Levon wears his war wounds like a crown. And he shall be Levon.
Calls his child Jesus, cuz he likes the name.

I love the song Autumn Leaves.   Especially when sung by Bing Crosby.  When he hits the part of the song where he sings "Old Winter's Song," I get chills.  Because seasons change and so do I.

September 16, 2014

Who do we hate this week?

Who do we hate this week?
People ask me Dense what is the secret to your 35 year marriage, and I always say:
1: Lower your expectations.
2: Have a sense of humor.
3: Who do we hate this week?  And people always shrug and say what?  This is hardest rule to accept, but the strongest of the three.   This rule is the secret of the common enemy.  A common enemy brings people together.

Who do we hate this week?
In my Province the teacher's union and the government have been fighting since June.  June 1968.
I have no clue, but like all great fights, this one has roots, it has legs, and encompasses generations.
Everyone hates the Government and most people hate teachers (kidding!!!!).  But.....

Who do we hate this week?
Even Joey Shithead jumped into the teapot with his tweet that has the audacity to suggest the Teacher's Union should compromise and get back to work.  This sentiment from the guy who wrote General Strike.
Poor Joe. He has taken a lot of heat this week.  Do I think he cares? Not really.  I don't care if he cares, he would probably say it is all a bunch of shit.  And this is guy who knows shit.   Except he didn't elaborate so everyone got to guess what he really thinks.  This is a guy who wants to be a politician.

Who do we hate this week?
Today it was announced that the two parties have come to an agreement.  Great.  The kids get to go back to school.  The Teacher's Union Leader is on the radio where we cannot see the mullet and mustache, going on about "no concessions were given by the teachers."
Was going 4 months without a pay cheque a concession the Teachers made to their union?  What about the  students who were graduating last year, still in a state of administrative mystery?  Or did he mean that no one was selling soda pop, hot dogs or popcorn?  I did hear that during the negotiations someone sent for a TV, and a large screen was brought in.  Huh?

Who do we hate this week?

Without exception almost everyone hates our perky little Premier, Christy Clark, who sends her single parented kid to a private school; I don't suppose Boy Clark has missed any Luncheables as his school has been open the whole time.  Now that the strike is over, (hey wait the teachers still have to mark it, but I understand it was primarily multiple choice- no essay questions allowed), the burning question is what can fill the hate vacuum on social media?

Who do we hate this week?
Obama, Israel, stupid white people with guns?  Easy targets one and all.

Who do we hate this week?
U2 seems to be on everybody's shit list. Why?  Do we really need a reason?  Bono and the Edge , who after all these years still hide behind their ridiculous pseudonyms.  Who do they think they are?
Dense Milt?
Can we just get over EGO and admit what really is on our minds?  Is Beyonce pregnant -yet, do you think that Miley Cyrus is a bigger influence than Elizabeth Warren?  The internet is blazing with people who are pissed off at U2 and pissed off at Apple.  For what we ask?  Because they gave everyone a free album, Songs of Innocence.  What is the problem?  Erase it if it really offends you.  Don't listen if you want.  But have you listened?

I did.

I kinda like it.  Dense Milt is going out on a fence here and saying that he kinda likes U2's new record.
I have to be careful here because we are all one tweet away from having the internet hate you.
It starts off with what sounds like a song for hockey games.  You mean like U2's Still Can't Find what I'm Looking For, or the Ramones Judy is a Brat.   Who would have thought the Ramones would all be dead and being blasted from every major sporting event.
The lead track is The Miracle (of Joey Ramone).  You heard it here.  Bono is giving tribute to the Ramones.   And it is kinda catchy.  "We were young, we were dumb".
The most beautiful sound he ever heard was the Ramones?  Or a hockey chant?
Every Breaking Wave starts out like the Police song.  Except it is U2 song.  I can feel my brain melting and my intelligence quotient dropping.  Christ these guys can write catchy melodies and lyrics that suggest something of import is being said, but upon inspection-POOF!  Gone.  What was the Police song?  Who cares.  Doo-doo-doo-doo.
Song three of the Songs of Innocence references Barbara Ann and Beach Boys.  Bono in a sandbox singing about California.  Except wait- there's more.  There are parenthese There is no end to love parenthese.  Whooah-Oooh!   There is no end to love.  Or Hate.

Who do we hate this week?

Morning Yet To Come

I hear the voices on the radio
and hit the snooze button
Fifteen minutes later the alarm jars-
I shut it off
Time for dreams to disappear and day to begin:
Legs swing from bed to floor

Although inside the house my wife and daughter are sleeping,
There is now sound all around me
Outside, I hear traffic flows in waves
onward toward Kingsway, a trolley slows,
braking the silence, gasping for air
Metal squeals mixed with refrigerator hum.

I grab the dogs and leave the apartment

The dogs pause, and shuffle by the elevator door
Maisy, my monsterous terrier moans
There is another dog, the new black puppy, and it is coming up the elevator
Maisy continues to agitate, writhing on her leash
until the elevator door opens and the new black dog leaves.

As we walk out on the street, the sun is rising
I hear birds, I see a cat, I see a man
He wears headphones
He is oblivious to the symphony around him
What is he listening to?

As we walk up the street I see  a crow on the ground next to the curb
He turns his head his beak opening but no sounds that I can hear
He is dying.

Maisy wants to know what is up with the fallen crow.
This is strange because there seems to be an understanding
between black dogs and the crows
This agreement was made in secret many years ago

The other birds,  the cats and definitely all the squirrels
did not sign on to this agreement.

It is always open season on cats, squirrels and any other bird
but the crows, they are ignored.
The black dogs do not engage with the crows.

The crow on the curb is dying.
Above, I  hear another crow
Is he singing the blues?  Does he even know about the fallen crow?
Higher above, a seagull circles and screams like Tippi Hedren
Cue the aviary woodwind section, as the smallest bird is trilling like a piccolo

There are many sounds in the morning
I do not have time to mourn the fallen crow.
There are more sounds and more morning yet to come.

September 2, 2014

Teach your children well. Their father’s hell did slowly go by.

You, who are on the road must have a code that you can live by.
And so become yourself because the past is just a good bye.
Teach your children well, their father's hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams, the one they fix, the one you'll know by.
Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

And you, of the tender years can't know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth, they seek the truth before they can die.
Teach your parents well, their children's hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams, the one they fix, the one you'll know by.
Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

I did not go to kindergarten.  You had to be Catholic to go to kindergarten in my town.

Grade one was Mrs. Lake- tall, kind. My mother sent there with measles.

Grade two was Mrs. Wright- Dennis will not need penmanship- he will have a secretary.

Grade three was Miss Haynes- silver hair battle axe to be feared.  Was actually very nice, except when I was caught with my brother’s Playboy calendar.

Grade four we got Miss Alleman- Large woman for a young lad in a new town.

Grade five my first male teacher Mr. Cokely- read beautifully Jack London’s Call of the Wild.  I remember his short sleeve white shirt and narrow black tie.  Also he was a sadist, arranging the children’s desk in order of perceived intelligence.  I was in the second seat, behind Sally Odd.  He was also the first teacher to send me to the library to read, which is what they did when having to teach down to the class medium.  My band teacher was Hampton Wines.  Great name.

Grade six a cigarette smoking lady named Mrs. Birkland- We knew that when we got to grade seven the older boys would call us homos.  We didn’t know what that was. Mrs. Birkland told us that it was not good to make fun of homosexuals. They were just people who want to be loved like you.  There was a special class for the kids who were mentally retarded, autistic etc.  This was the first year for that. 

Grade seven was year one of Junior High and more than one teacher.  My favorite teacher was Mr. Green.  He greased his hair, wore the short sleeve white shirts, but talk us about politics.  Band with Mr. Iles, Choral with Mr. Marin.  When Mr. Marin left the school to sell real estate, the girls sang To Sir with Love, and cried.

Grade eight was a joint social studies and environmental science class.  Also a funny science teacher name Mr. Hamm.  He would say the chirds are burping, and I resemble that remark, and other corny lines I have since made my own.

Grade nine we had Miss Yule.  She was hot.  Can’t even remember what she taught.  Miss Donaldson taught Oceanography where we dissected sharks. That made the hall smell bad for a week.

Grade ten was my first year of high school in the US and Canada.   I went to Aloha for about a month.
It was a modern school without bells.  We moved back to Canada.  Not just anywhere in Canada.  West Vancouver in those days was a pseudo British hell, where teachers like Mr. Donaldson stormed around and hit kids with his ruler.  Mr. Callow, who later was dismissed for incompetence, taught me the important lesson in politics and history- follow the money.  
Mr. Callow was also called Bonehead. One day, the kids next to me threw a desk out the window of the fourth story of Hillside Secondary.  Our English teacher was a German lady who had her back turned and did not notice a desk going out the window.   Mr. Callow had the room below. He came upstairs and bursting into the room,  demanded to know what had happened and who was responsible for throwing a desk out the window.  The German English teacher, whose name escapes me, said," Dennis- did you see a desk go out the window? "  Not wanting to be fink in my new school, where I was already ostracized as "the American",  I replied no, I did not.  
She said, "Well Mr. Callow, there you have it.  A desk did not go out the window, because my students do not lie. " 

Most useful class I ever took was Typing 10 with Mr. Taylor, the Vice Principal.  I got a C+, my lowest grade in school, but learned the most valuable skills.

Grade eleven we moved to Steveston, home of the Packers and whose principal was Dal Richards brother. 
On my first day to school,  I was walking along Steveston Highway, and go splashed by a giant wave. I was soaked from head to toe.   Memorable teachers included Vern Simpson, the graphics teacher.  He was the sculpter  that did Gassy Jask in Gastown.  Also Mr. Clarke, our Drama teacher.  I was either the star actor or a drama suck, depending on which side of the Jocks, Greasers, or Nerds you were on.  
We also had a math teacher, Mr. Kagetsu, who wrote his name on the board.  Ka- Get- Su.  Then he wrote, HARD WORK MAKES A HAPPY PERSON.   We laughed, but he may have had the last laugh.

Grade twelve more wasting of time, plotting against the jocks, who go so tired of our upstaging of the teacher in History, that they threw a desk at me.  Our group was split up and transferred to a different time period.   Ms. Morris (now they were Ms) was the art teacher and English teacher.  She basically said, go to the library and read for the semester, you are going to get an A anyway.  Write me a book report every week.  I played Charly in Flowers for Algernon, beginning a long career of playing morons who turn into geniuses and back again.  

Teachers were very important.  The good ones even more important.  And there were many good ones.
I would have to say that teachers and education was one of the more influential forces in my life.

I was never influenced positively by any politician, except perhaps Jessica Van der Veen for her performance in the lawyers meeting with Starbucks on behalf of the Manhattan Co-op. We walked into this board room of leather and rosewood, and she placed a cassette player with attached microphone on the table.   "You don't mind if I record this , do you?"   
The Vice President of Starbucks ( who was trying to get seating in the courtyard of the Manhattan) was nonplussed.  He stammered.  He relented.  And in the end, we triumphed.   
I asked Jessica if she got it all down.  
She said, there never was a tape in the machine.

August 31, 2014

Joseph Arthur's tribute song to Robin Williams


A life is lost and a stone is thrown
into the pool ripples spread out
from the impact,  concentric rings push back
In time, the ripples become stillness
Yet, sometimes the ripples just keep pushing
spreading wave upon wave
We stand at the edge and wave good-bye.

August 30, 2014

The Private Dining Room

by Ogden Nash 

Miss Rafferty wore taffeta,
Miss Cavendish wore lavender.
We ate pickerel and mackerel
And other lavish provender,
Miss Cavendish was Lalage,
Miss Rafferty was Barbara.
We gobbled pickled mackerel
And broke the candelabara,
Miss Cavendish in lavender,
In taffeta, Miss Rafferty,
The girls in taffeta lavender,
And we, of course, in mufti.

Miss Rafferty wore taffeta,
The taffeta was lavender,
Was lavend, lavender, lavenderest,
As the wine improved the provender.
Miss Cavendish wore lavender,
The lavender was taffeta.
We boggled mackled pickerel,
And bumpers did we quaffeta.
And Lalage wore lavender,
And lavender wore Barbara,
Rafferta taffeta Cavender lavender
Barbara abracadabra.

Miss Rafferty in taffeta
Grew definitely raffisher.
Miss Cavendish in lavender
Grew less and less stand-offisher.
With Lalage and Barbara
We grew a little pickereled,
We ordered Mumm and Roederer
Because the bubbles tickereled.
But lavender and taffeta
Were gone when we were soberer.

I haven’t thought for thirty years
Of Lalage and Barbara.

August 13, 2014

I flirted with you all my life

I flirted with you all my life -Vic Chesnutt

I am a man. I am self aware.
Everywhere I go, you're always right there with me.

I flirted with you all my life
Even kissed you once or twice
To this day I swear it was nice.
But clearly, I was not ready.

When you touched a friend of mine, I thought I would loose my mind.
But I found out with time,
That really, i was not ready.
No, No

Oh death, oh death, oh death.
Really, I'm not ready.

Of death you hinder me.
Death makes those dear to me.
Tease me with your sweet relief.
You're cool, and you are constant.

When my mom was cancer sick,
She fought but then succumb to it.
But you made her beg for it, 
Lord Jesus, please, I'm ready.

Oh death, oh death, oh death. 
Really I'm not ready.
No no.
Oh death, oh death, oh death.
Clearly I'm not ready.


It's fairly clear that Vic Chesnutt wanted out.  His overdose on Christmas 2009 was a suicide attempt that ended his flirtation with Death.  His friends and fans were devastated, but we can never be truly shocked or surprised when someone who has attempted suicide many times was finally successful.  Strange word successful.  Especially in this context.

I loved Vic Chesnutt's music and especially his lyrics.  The first song that drew me in was Danny Carlisle.


He wanted a tree fort more than anything
Yes he wanted to build and defend one on his own
But the neighbor boys BB siege was overwhelming
So he won't be building his dream tree fort anymore

He received a five-speed Schwinn for Christmas
So he built a ramp out of plywood and a stump
And at nights he dreamed Evel Knievel
And a canyon to jump in his backyard

Danny Carlisle don't give a shit about the contras
Danny Carlisle is barely grown
And he's used up most of his options but still he would rather
Dream than fuck

Once he used a pocket knife to kill a garter snake
Yes he chopped that evil serpent into fours
And when he raised his eyes to heaven as a soldier
He wiped the blood of bad snake on his shirt

Danny Carlisle don't give a shit about the contras
Danny Carlisle is barely grown
And he's used up most of his options but still he would rather
Dream than fuck

What a beautiful line!  He don't give a shit about the Contras.  He's barely grown and he's used up most of his options.

Still he would rather dream than fuck.

Who writes songs like this?  No one but Vic, and now, no one.

That is why death, especially self imposed death is so devastating.  It is final.  There is no going back.
No do overs.  

In a few seconds time....life changes.  Life's disappear and all that remains are tears. 

August 12, 2014

Suicide happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain.

First off before we go any further let me just say I am fine.
I am a very sensitive person who knows the black dogs of depression,
but today the only black dogs are the ones on the end of the leash as I walk them around the block.

Lately there is so much death in the news.  And sadness.  

How can people be so stupid and so cruel?  

From Gaza to the Ukraine, from the continual war on women, and the war on the individual, and 
the war against privacy, the world closes in.
We start to choke on this world.
It grabs us by the throat and throws us to the ground like a rag doll.


We smile.  We force ourselves to smile.   We walk our dogs, and pet our cats.
We hug our children and kiss our lovers.  
And the sun shines.
And the water is clear and drinkable.

But for some people who do not have all the love around them like I do, life can become unbearable.

The following is from a website: 

"Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain."

"That's all it's about. You are not a bad person, or crazy, or weak, or flawed, because you feel suicidal. It doesn't even mean that you really want to die - it only means that you have more pain than you can cope with right now. If I start piling weights on your shoulders, you will eventually collapse if I add enough weights... no matter how much you want to remain standing. Willpower has nothing to do with it. Of course you would cheer yourself up, if you could. "

"Don't accept it if someone tells you, "That's not enough to be suicidal about." There are many kinds of pain that may lead to suicide. Whether or not the pain is bearable may differ from person to person. What might be bearable to someone else, may not be bearable to you. The point at which the pain becomes unbearable depends on what kinds of coping resources you have. Individuals vary greatly in their capacity to withstand pain. "

"When pain exceeds pain-coping resources, suicidal feelings are the result. Suicide is neither wrong nor right; it is not a defect of character; it is morally neutral. It is simply an imbalance of pain versus coping resources.

You can survive suicidal feelings if you do either of two things:
(1) find a way to reduce your pain, or 
(2) find a way to increase your coping resources. 

Both are possible. "


I remembered this from the Art Bears from my time of great creativity, and great wild life:

Words by Bertholt Brecht, Music by Hanns Eisler

In such a country, and at such at time
There should be no melancholy evenings
Even high bridges over the rivers
And the hours between the night and morning
And the long long winter time as well
All these are dangerous !
For in view of all the misery
People just throw, in a few seconds time
Their unbearable lives away

"People just throw, in a few seconds time, their unbearable lives away."

These words are haunting.

If you cannot cope with your pain, your mental conditions,

your  demons, depression, your black dog,

 you become overwhelmed, PLEASE ASK FOR HELP!

Scream for help if you have to. 

In a few seconds time.....

I have been trying to write for the past few months.

Lately, death is all around me.

A few months ago, our friend Dave Gregg's heart gave out far too young.
A few weeks ago, My dear Mother, her time ran out, at age 93
She lived a long and beautiful life, 
although her last 8 years she was trapped inside her mind. 
her life was the living hell that is dementia

A few hours ago,  Robin Williams who made us all laugh and cry so many times 
ended his own life.

In a few seconds time...

Oscar Wilde gets the last word.

"The final mystery is oneself.
 When one has weighed the sun in the balance, and measured the steps of the moon, and mapped out the seven heavens star by star, there still remains oneself.
 Who can calculate the orbit of his own soul?"

May 31, 2014

The Problem of the Hammer and the Nail

“Just because you have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail.” 

So said Barack Obama in his speech this week at Westpoint where he explained what pundits are calling the Obama Doctrine, also known as official US foreign policy.  

Obama has been forced by critics to explain his foreign policy because it appears to lack consistency.  The hammer metaphor applies to the fact that the USA has developed the world's most powerful Hammer, it's military, which has the most weapons (Hammers),  and is capable of a military response (Hammer Time) whenever perceived American interests are at stake.  
When we say American interests, please read Corporate interests; follow the oil, follow the money.

This is The Hammer.  

And the "Nail(s)" in this metaphor are the multitude of situations, problems, and political developments in the world beyond the US borders that may require US intervention, or "hammering".  Problems within the US border can also require Hammers, but we can call this Policing the populace.  

Let us explore this metaphor in greater depth.  A hammer is a tool in the tool kit that is best used for applying directed and significant pressure to a pointed object (the nail); this force of pressure hopeully helps to drive that point (Nail) home.  

Is a hammer,  like a gun, only dangerous when used by someone who doesn't know how to use it, doesn't use it often, or can no longer focus on what it is they are hammering?  Many purple thumbs have lived to tell the story.  

My older brother once told me of his Shop teacher friend, who said to one of the students "hand me that wrench".  To which the student replied, "Which wrench?"
Shop teacher, "It doesn't matter.  I am going to use it as a hammer anyway."

 A hammer like a gun can be potentially dangerous or powerful in the hands of anyone who has one in their possession.  Guns don't kill people, People kill people, so says the NRA. There is a simplistic truth to that statement.  The next logical question would be the affect of having so many guns available, that when you go reaching for the remote, and instead pick up the gun, well, the story plays out every few weeks in America.

Hammers do not hammer nails; people with hammers do.   

Militaries, in most cases, do not hammer villages, kill innocent children, send children to foreign countries; political leaders order the military to do so.  This is basic Chain of Command.  In the US, which is a police/military state, the executive leader is called the Commander-in-Chief.  Besides surviving the 2 year campaign for the highest office in the land, what qualifications are required of these leaders before handed them the Hammers?  Look at the difference between a real leader like Romeo D'Allaire or Eisenhower ( men who served in the military) and "leaders" like Obama, Bush, Harper etc.  These same leaders who urge us to Support the Troops, do not support the same troops when they come home.  Even D'Allaire some 20+ years later admits he suffer from PTSD.  

My dad used to love to go to the hardware store.  He loved gadgets, and shiny objects.  The newest hammer in the tool kit are drones.  Drones are hammers that can be directed from a distance, so that there is less risk for the Hammerer to be hammered themselves in retaliation.  Just as guns don't kill people, and hammers don't hammer nails, similarly, drones do not kill children; the Presidents who order the military to carry out these orders are the ones who must bear that responsibility.   

Another phrase with regard to Hammers and Nails that we might want to remember: “When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”  Sort of drives the point home.

May 25, 2014


 May 25 2007.



Black Betty licks her lips with the Devil’s Dust

In a hole in the back where the mirrors all rust

She can turn the clock back make a white man black

She owns your soul Gave you a heart attack

And she’ll serve you up right when you’re down that way

There you’ll talk to a rock Let him have his say

Everything goes blurry monkeys jumping in your heart

They say the devil’s in the details let’s go back to the start

Black Betty cuts a line through the crowd like a cat

With her nails so sharp that the mirror ball’s flat

With eyes like a needle she finds her way into your heart

She throws the best party but you got the best part

Now your blood went greasy but your hair stayed thick

And your fingers go sticky on her Lickety Stick

There’s a bowl full of bacon and a whipped up crowd

And the Devil Dust Daddy makes his Daddy so proud

Your lungs on fire there’s chicken wire in your heart

Just breathe through your nose if you’re so damned smart

You’re an emergency waiting This was not what you planned;

Gave your heart to the devil but you didn’t take her hand.