An inch closer to the flame

Was that death I heard downstairs,
rattling the pots & pans.
Was that My Maker I spotted,
on South Ocean Avenue with his thumb out,
hitching north toward Mar-a-Lago.
Was that a congressman I spied,
in the light of the quarter moon,
reading from the collected works,
of a great poet long gone on,
to his literary reward?
Let’s drink gin and discuss the market,
and the rise of the hedge fund cowboys,
and their three thousand-dollar shoes.

Press on.

Make sure the great and
glorious fires of freedom remain stoked.
Make your peace with the Big Guy,
but there is no need to go overboard.
You’ve had decades to explore Buddhism,
plenty of time to clean out the cobwebs,
maybe give  up the booze.
Don’t let them talk you into anything,
you  don’t need another vacuum cleaner,
another Volkswagen, or another juicer…

For crying out loud,
there hasn’t been a decent
communist, walking
42nd Street since 1956…
The Beats are dead.
The hippies have retired to Martha’s Vineyard
and to the Hamptons – and Sag Harbor.

Nobody reads the poets anymore.
Poetry doesn’t sell.
Reality sells…reality TV sells better.
Old men in suits sell reality TV.
Old poets die in overstuffed chairs
by the fire – the lucky ones.

Thoughts on December 21, 2012

I don’t know about you, o’reader, but I take great comfort in the fact that the world did not end on December 21st of last year. In spite of the fact that the rendering of our tiny planet into a puff of cosmic dust would certainly solve, with great finality, the problems of all mankind, most of us rather enjoy our ride around the sun. With a few exceptions, we are a diverse lot of complacent and happy souls here on Planet Earth, and if our lives are not perfect, we still enjoy living them, and if our days become ‘hum-drum’, measured, and even mundane, so be it.

Not that we are a planet of bores here on Earth, but seldom (thankfully) are we confronted with a disaster over which we have no absolutely no control. The kind of event that would really shake the mundane out of your day – such a day as (some) predicted would occur on December 21st. Most of us, however, do not wish to be thrust into jaw dropping disaster.

Not that we are oblivious to the world around us. We fear natural events such as hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, floods, fires and mudslides, and perhaps fear more, man made events such as terrorist attacks, random shootings, plane crashes and freeway pileups. We are well aware of the fact that we could be poisoned by Anthrax, attacked by killer bees, eaten by errant microbes, strangled by jealous lovers, gunned down by deranged co-workers or run down by feeble elderly drivers (cut me a break on last one, I live in South Florida and I know what I’m talking about).

But even the most disastrous of the aforementioned disasters involve only a small portion of Earth’s population, while only one disaster, the mega-disaster: The End of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI) involves, well, all of us. Maybe that is the allure of TEOTWAWKI. Is our attraction to end time theories a result of there being safety in numbers? It is true that when it comes to TEOTWAWKI we are all in the same cosmic boat – whether you reside in Somolia, or Burbank, TEOTWAWKI is taking us all out.

So ask yourself…

…are things just a bit slow right now since the countdown clock that used to appear on the right hand pane of my blog has been taken down, and the date December 21, 2012 is simply a circled date on last year’s calendar – the one that is now residing in your recycling bin alongside the Christmas cards and crumpled hunks of wrapping paper. Has life become just a tiny bit more…boring…than usual? Maybe you sort of miss the rush of knowing it ALL ‘could’ end on a particular day. Well then, look no further than Ed’s End of the Planet Books…here we go…

Please mark Thursday, September 11, 2020 on your collective calendars, o’ readers. Yes, according to some experts and researchers this is a date of interest. The planetary alignments are an astronomical certainty. On this date, the planets Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Mercury, and Venus all align with the Sun and the Moon! Yikes. Is this a recipe for disaster or what? Some doomsayers are predicting that the combined gravitational pull of these celestial objects could pull the earth off of its axis causing continent-drowning mega-tsunamis, hundreds if not thousands of feet tall. Earthquakes and volcanoes follow – a real mess. Still other experts predict a more subtle TEOTWAWKI. In their scenario, the earth is simply pulled away from its orbit around the sun causing the planet to become increasingly icy and cold, until we all freeze – so there…so much for global warming. Al Gore didn’t know what he was talking about after all did he!

Anyway, more on this event in another blog – I can’t wait.



Countdown to the END on December 21?

The other morning, I watched with great interest a news report on the upcoming, much hyped, “End of the World”. Of course, I have played into the hype in my own miniscule way – note the countdown clock on the right hand side of your screen. The date in question, December 21st, 2012, is the end of the Mayan Long Count Calendar. Some say the world will end that day in some sort of global cataclysm. According to the news report, NASA is besieged with inquiries. People want the down-low on the END, and who best to answer that question than the space guys themselves. Assuming the END will come from out of the sky with our little planet taking it head-on with an asteroid or comet, then the NASA guys are the ones who ought to know. The Near Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT) team, under the auspices of the U.S. Air Force has been tracking nearby asteroids and comets for years. The last time I checked, the only civilization altering object in our neighborhood, an asteroid scheduled for a flyby in 2028, has now been re-categorized by NEAT, and now poses no danger at all to us.

According to the news reports though, some folks are not convinced. They’re stocking up on provisions – food, medical supplies, and most importantly ammunition. Some people don’t want to be caught under a five hundred foot tidal-wave unless they are well armed.

Besides creating a group of paranoid adults, the December 21st date is causing countless school-children (much more understandably), to lie awake nights worrying about the END, instead of focusing on Christmas 4 days later.

Perhaps the children would feel better about things if they were told that the Mayan Long Count Calendar consists of a timekeeping system started (roughly) around 3114 B.C.E. Since we know that it is impossible that the earth was formed at this early date we must ask ourselves if these Mayans are all that reliable in the first place. They seem to know when it all ends, but they have no idea when it started – no creditability I say.

The Mayan Calendar is divided into 394 year periods called baktuns. On, or around, December 21st of this year, the calendar will have completed its 13th baktun. While the number 13 held special significance to the Mayans, there is still little evidence that the calendar ends on December 21st  because after that time we shall have no more need for calendars!

Listen to the Mayans themselves. Present day Mayan priest, Miguel Angel Vergara, says the December 21st date is not to be feared. Instead he says, we should welcome the end of the Mayan calendar. According to Mr. Vergara, on or somewhere around, December 21st, we will be entering a time of great spiritual transition as mankind throws off the shackles of “greed and darkness”. Ah…so that’s what all this hokey-pokey is all about.

So you see…it may not be that bad.

Personally, I’m not so sure that I buy into the fact that shaking the shackles of greed and darkness is any more likely than getting struck by an errant comet.

Still, you never know. On November 26, New York City reported, for the first time in as long as police can recall, no one was murdered, shot, or stabbed during a 24 hour period. There was, as I understand, some sporadic gunfire but apparently nobody was hit.

It is a start.

Neil Armstrong, 1930 – 2012

They say that humans are the only animals that are aware of their own impending death. I am not certain that I believe that, but that is not the point of this entry. The fact is, most of us do not give thought to our own demise, as long as we are in good health and occupied in other pursuits.  Occasionally, something happens that shakes us back to the very roots of reality – back to the stark bare knowledge of our own existence, and the (very soon), lack thereof.

I was reminded of my own mortality yesterday. Early in the day I was busy making plans to weather yet another tropical storm here in South Florida. I had made all the usual rounds: Home Depot for a tarp and roofing nails, Publix, for water, food, and batteries, the gas station for auto fuel and generator fuel – all the usual stops we usually  make  around here when the tropics threaten.

Later I turned to my computer and found that Neil Armstrong had died. It was then that I had a ‘death-moment’…that one or two seconds when it all becomes clear. It is then you really know that time for you will someday run out. I remember Neil Armstrong as a young man, younger than I am now. I hadn’t thought too much about him in recent years (he was a low profile guy anyway), but occasionally he turned up in the news, and when I thought of him, I always thought of the young forty something astronaut that I remember from my youth. But time has been ticking by…

If you weren’t alive on July 20, 1969, or if you were too young to remember, or if you weren’t paying attention in forth grade history class, Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon. Actually, saying that he was the first man to walk on the moon trivializes the event. He was the first human being to plant a foot on anything in the Universe that was not planet Earth. Of course, Neil did not do it by himself. He had the resources of the entire United States Government behind him. Still, in a day when making a long distance telephone call was nearly a life-event, and the internet was still a dream away, and most of us were watching television in black and white, the moon landing seems more remarkable today than it did then.

I was fourteen years old, when Neil took his first small step for mankind. I was watching the landing at my grandmother’s house, in rural Iowa, on a black-and-white RCA television – the console model with feet on the bottom and wide hardwood shelf on top for displaying pictures. The moon landing had been one of the most anticipated events of my young life up until then, and at that time it was difficult to imagine that anything could ever compare to it. Kids wanted to be astronauts because that was the future. Teachers talked about moon bases and space colonies. I recall one teacher saying to our class that by the time we had children of our own, travel between the Earth and the Moon would be commonplace.

Of course none of that has happened. Not to say we haven’t had success in cultivating near-space for our own purposes. Without satellites in orbit the communication that we enjoy today would be impossible. But as far as returning to the Moon, there is little interest. Of course there were other missions to the Moon, but it is a costly and dangerous place to travel.

So I say farewell Neil Armstrong. I cannot believe you were 82 when you passed. To me, and perhaps to a generation of other teenage kids who were watching you on that day in 1969 you will remain 39 years old forever.

Godspeed, Neil, wherever the journey takes you…we will all be along soon.

Yikes…is it all over?

Is it the end of time?  I really don’t know. All I know is that it is 2012 and for quite awhile, I have been hearing that the end is near — something about the Mayan calendar.  Here in South Florida, where I live, nobody seems to really be giving it a lot of thought. Spring break is in full swing and even though we may all be swept away in a tidal wave that could wipe our little piece of the planet off of the map we are not concerned because it is just another sunny day and the margaritas are flowing in Ft. Lauderdale.

For many years now, I have studied theories of how it is all going to end, not with some morbid kind of fascination, but more with a scientific desire to learn and understand.  So what is it about the big goodbye that fascinates me so? I know, odds are I will be long gone, when the BIG END comes. I will be pushing up daises when that giant asteroid slams into the Pacific, or the earth tumbles into the Sun, or those aliens from deep space zap us into oblivion. But it is kind of interesting to let your mind go now and then and to try to picture it all…maybe that black hole sucking us all into another dimension in time…I don’t know.

What I do like to discuss is the bizarre, the unusual, and whatever stretches the mind to its limit. Be it the paranormal, space aliens, crop circles, the rapture, the trilateral commission, the Bible Code, tarot cards, palmistry, eternal return, the Kennedy assassination, 911 conspiracy theories, the Bermuda Triangle, astral projection, near death experiences, polar shift, the next ice age, global meltdown, black helicopters or Stonehenge I am up for a discussion.

Please don’t think that just because I may suggest something here on my little blog that I totally buy into it.  Nothing could be further from the truth. I am a realist who simply enjoys the unusual. I want to discuss topics here that are interesting and provide fodder for some good writing, for both fictional and non-fictional works.