Thursday, August 6, 2009

Modern Art, Grumpy People

The first time I got a full case of dismay was back in my hippie days. It got real clear that the movement that was in so many ways trying to rise above the commercial objectives of that time was being what we called co-opted. Hippies were well known for such ideas as *free love*. Imagine some shit for brains naming a condoms brand Free Love. That's the basic idea. I just made that up, and I doubt the brand would flourish, but it might well survive. Of course that is what happened, along with other pressures. Business as usual actually took away something essential and now hippies are widely felt to be a joke. There are certain places especially on the west coast where hippies in more or less pristine form still exist, but mainly in obscure locations. We don't have much room for hippies in the mainstream.

Back in the day I claimed for myself a submergence. I went into the mainstream behind the idea of going into deep cover. Of course in some ways that is a joke I make, but there is a kernal of truth. One basic example, when I got my first drafter trainee position, I felt I had to interview and start my new job wearing a wig to cover my long hair. That didn't last long. Instead I cut my hair. There were some longhairs working but not many. I needed the job. Ann was going to grad school. We had rented a slum house, though the neighborhood wasn't bad and the house was basically sound. I sacrificed by going even further under cover. That shorter hair thing took root with me. Now I periodically cut my hair short, about 1.5" or so and let it grow out, over and over to 3-4" long. I get 3 haircuts a year max. Long hair is actually dangerous in my profession.

Modern Art

The shape of chaos
invites me to fall forward
flat against my nose
trying to understand why
it needs any frame
but the smart guys will
frame it and sell it
and some shithead will buy it
and that's all there is to that.

They tell me I have
a really bad attitude.

February 3, 2009 9:10 AM


Here's a grumpy attitude, by God! I don't think I will say much about this, except to say there is a weird distant connection between both poems.

Grumpy People

Be grateful, they say
as if in saying grateful
I can be grateful.
There must be room for grumpy
people on the holy path.
The sludge of this thing
has it's place, sewage gives life
even though it stinks.

February 3, 2009 11:27 AM


  1. Some of my best friends are grumpy people! I don't think grumpy is a choice...

  2. What! Hippies are not in fashion? I suppose I'm happy for this. Fashion is vacuous anyhow. To be what one truly is is never in fashion. Denial seems to be a long time trend. Some of us tread quietly behind commercials and some of us actually aren't so quiet at all.

    Sewage gives life even though it of my favorite smells is cow dung. Go figure.

  3. {{{Michelle}}}

    Karen, maybe grumpy is a choice a little. There is something to be said for how rude grumpy can be to others, and how it would be better to avoid it as much as possible.

    You missed the part where Hippies all moved to small towns in Oregon near Eugene?? I suppose there are are enclaves in Northern California and Washington state too. What was really fun was to go to a Hot Tuna concert a couple years ago and find out how many costumed aging long hairs were nearby enough to Portland to show up and boogie with Kaukonen and Cassady still partners after all these years.

  4. Sewage gives life, correct. We all need some kind of fertilizer.

  5. Techno, I am glad you agree, so if grumpy people are like sewage then they are irritating and smelly but they may give us nutrients.

    Thus when I am grumpy I can take solace in my service as social fertilizer.

    Ghost, that is not a pure hippie chick. If she ever was a hippie chick, she is coopted for sure. You can tell by the shopping bag.

  6. There is ALWAYS room for grumpy! Be proud of grumpiness. And remember, if every day were a good day, there'd be no good days. :)

    I loved your phrase "a full case of dismay". No vaccine, no cure, but at least we can treat the symptoms.

  7. Yes indeed, like that one. "Social Fertilizer". Can I use that one?

  8. Techno, I have staked no claim. Certain people are serenity testers in my life. If my level of serenity is high then I tolerate them. If I find myself intolerant, then my serenity level is too low. What I need to do at that point is nothing about these people but to repair my serenity instead.

    Whenever I am disturbed, no matter the reason, there is something wrong with me. If I need to changed something in the world, will I change it better from a disturbed and upset condition? That upset cannot be trusted to produce a wise change in things.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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