The Business Model of Addiction

RangoAddiction is not just a disease. It’s often a comorbidity with other mood disorders (bipolar, schizophrenia, etc). If you don’t treat the root cause the comorbidity will run its own course and become an independent pathology. It’s a significant factor in the compiled morbidity statistics for affected cohorts that can shave off more than 20 years of lifespan in the form of organ failure and suicide.
There is no group therapy, no 12-step program that can address a compulsive tendency to self-medicate if the underlying pathology is not addressed. It’s a maladaptive response to a physiological or psychological crisis that is prone to a continuous escalation of tolerance until physical dependence is established.
At that point there is no sense of euphoria or intoxication to the user, only temporary mitigation against the absolute, immediate suffering of withdraw.
Clinicians and “addiction specialists” who are not sufficiently educated or equipped to identify and treat the root cause of addictive pathologies are a major contributor to our national mental health crises. They conflate morbidity associated with alcoholism and opioid addiction by failing to treat the underlying mechanisms of causal mood disorders in deference to naive idioms of patient care that only serve their interests.
Forced or sedated detoxification & prescribed group therapy are often the only tools employed by practitioners who are woefully uneducated or whose only qualification is being a recovering addict.
They work for for-profit institutions like Lakeside Milam or Fairfax Behavioral Health, administering bowls of jello & Just Say No videos from the 80’s under the pretext of care for $35,000 a month billed to your insurance.
If you inquire about recidivism, efficacy or individual therapies they will scold you as being an enabler contributing to the addict’s behavior & failed recovery.
The reason they are so defensive, reactionary & secretive about their treatment outcomes is that it is in their financial interest for addicts to fail. Returning customers are the pedal stone of any business model & these sham recovery centers are no exception. They are not interested or qualified to address the root causes of addictive pathologies and have everything to gain if a patient relapses. They’ll blame the patient or their loved ones & charge their insurance.
Often patients come out worse than they were at admission. They learn skills and behaviors from hardcore addicts caught in the cycle of addiction & recovery while their underlying pathologies go untreated.
I recently met a patient that had been admitted to Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare in Tukwila more than thirty times. Cleary suffering from an undiagnosed mood disorder that was the root cause of his addictive pathology, neglected, untreated and suffering.
Do the math, that’s nearly a million dollars worth of jello & coloring books. They know prior to admission that their treatment won’t work. But it’s a successful business model that is antithetical to both addiction treatment and mental health care, callously indifferent to suffering & directly contributing to morbidity statistics.
In the aggregate, we as a society have the knowledge, tools and capability to successfully treat both mood disorders and their corresponding comorbidities. But we do not have the will.
As long as recovery is a function of unbridled capitalism people you know and love will continue to suffer & die needlessly. It’s too late for millions of people but we have the capacity to change going forward. It’s long past time for healthcare reform, and mental health should be at the forefront of our thinking at every step. Anything less is just a business model.

Country Song (Kernel Sanders Remix)

[ Intro ]

Snapshot000009[ed: the gear is always on. if she tries to break up with me, if she tries to walk out, i’ll just pick up T-Bone, turn down the studio lights & play this song right there in front of her, live, as her resistance crumbles & the suitcase becomes impossibly full of tears and regret. every pair of panties leaves a tip on the scale of doubt. sure baby pack up your bags. you do that.  good luck with that while i finish the intro ]

[ Verse 1 ]
If I wrote you a love song
It would be long over due
The verse would take a starry night
The chorus might take two
I’d sing your name & take the blame
For all the words I said in vain
I’d take you in my arms to see
Your eyes looking back at me


<< Drop >>

Romeo 2.0
old school
don’t you know
one man show
under pantsies
new romancies

19th level barding
i ain’t tanya harding
Pyroclastic chromatastic
fantastic mind elastic

so i can see how they would say that
and you know that’s how i pay back
i don’t play that honey
i don’t play for money

i’m not good on roller skates
but i can juggle lots of plates
and you can see that’s how I rate
first conflate and then deflate
29064197_10215394236347744_965498655223118704_oand it was ice on the skates
she wasn’t nice out of the gate
i blame her hate she couldn’t wait
it’s half-past eight
now don’t be late

[ed: i will not help her because I’m in the middle of casting a spell, she knows it. and i’m almost to the chorus. she knows how the song goes, that’s how she ended up here. she’s already given up & we both know it. but it’s nice to give her the illusion of a fighting chance because we’re going to keep her after the spell wears off & she realizes what’s already happened. she caves, takes out her lighter & holds it up. everybody should]

[ Chorus ]

Days are long, the nights are cold
Story’s written, the end foretold
If I had one more word to say
I never should have let you leave that day
<< Drop >>
[ed: game / set / match, have a seat on the couch of bitter irony because we just got to the second verse. and you’re sitting on the most expensive couch of your life, and mine, held hostage to the fact that we danced <right><there> led zeppelin songs jack white & me you’re singing it in your head before we even get there you know how it goes but here it comes anyway, this is where you crumble. maybe just lay your down where i laid mine in your lap ]


[  Verse 2 ]

Scuff marks on the studio floor
Where we danced, the shoes you wore
Mountains crumble to the sea
Zeppelin songs, Jack White & me

I told you that I loved you
But I never said enough
Rainy days, teardrop stains
A diamond and your stuff

[ed: those boot marks in the dust are a bardic pentagram we etched while we danced as i anticipated the day you were leaving, and they also happen to spell out an ancient message which is that you’re not. no ma’am. incoming spam this is where i slam you go down over the falls in the can not a great plan. now take my hand ]

<< Drop >>

takes two to tango, lady
i ain’t slim shady
culpible for your position
in your mission
one musician
and magician
that ain’t fishin
that ain’t wishingkind of greedy
kind of needy
took so long
i aint that seedy

but i take the 5th i plead
heed my rhymes
and you will read
it was just me

but if maybe i’m not alone
i talked to you on the phone
there was noone else at home
this was the tone29791715_10215448564825922_3768186726762151936_o (1)
just one rabbit
one bad habit
one or two or two or three or four
i couldn’t count i closed the door
tossed the bottles on the floor
couldn’t take it anymore
full throttle on the bottle
on the floorright there by the shoes you wore
and then i swore
i wrote a song about that
back before they called me matt
it doesn’t matter

once or twice before
but you might remember more
as i deplore
i just can’t take it anymore
do you remember
when i leave you in september
pentagrams & histograms
time is but the dripping sands

that come in 3’s
in my old school
those are old tools
but i am not a fool
i only have one rule
you cannot leave
that’s just not coolnevermind you
i must play through
you stay there
and touch my hair

on the couch
please don’t slouch
and hold the cheese
i did say please
do not recycle my raps jeez
i caught your flow & will appease

31429347_10215623561960741_7473133126697353216_nnow please clap
and i won’t rap
i’ll shut my yap
and fingertap

like kernel sanders
and you’re ed flanderss
o you give me your head
cuz you are already dead
cogently preemptively
and definitely was not me
as you can see

your stuff has heavies
but i break levies
you’re not ready
fly meet Spyder
don’t get beside her
i’m the Strider
get in my pants
and get the lighter

[ Chorus ]

Days are long, the nights are cold
Story’s written, the end foretold
If I had one more word to say
I never should have let you leave that day
<< Drop >>

hold it up the tears roll down
i told you that i was a clown
you’re not  rolling out of town
and i would not mess around
what’s the upside with your frown
i’ll turn it down like charlie brown

how did you get from over there
with your goldie hawn kate hair
to over here and on the pier
and if you might just hold my beer

i would like the time to meet her
kiss her her face & proper greet her
from her eyes I can read her
time to go she’s my Demeter

hold that thought and if you will
take a bitter happy pill
on a boat that was afloat


with all the optimistic things
please don’t try to clip your wings
you just met a dog that singsit’s a movie you & me
starring rango von linksi
don’t be afraid just look & seeif we fail i will not blame us
we will still be somewhat famous
so listen dear
you lose your fear
and i’ll say hey
where’s my beer
stay there on the couch not leaving
you can see what i’ve been weaving
this rap is not the song
it’s not about what’s wronghonestly not what i need
this is not the way i feed
but now i think i’m gonna freeze

i feel a nasty breeze
so if you please i’ll close the door
and as i do so i implore
you can see there
on the floor
in font of me
as i explore the shoes you worethey made me so hot
i’m something that i’m not
getting to the chorus
don’t be boring don’t you bore us
don’t you adore us
i shut the door yes.

10501597_10204117467915581_5571874253461299804_n (1)glad that’s settled
here’s some metal
as heavy as her stuff
mostly fluff

its’ not enough
a diamond in the rough
that i throw out on the street
i’m the one do not compete

while you are just sitting there
me my rhymes are everywhere
and now my work’s complete
a fait accompli

it’s you & me
this is your fate
a double take
a wake & bake cupcake
muffin man
is in the pan

as i perform
out of the norm
in front of you
that’s what i am gonna do
you’re in my lair
you touched my hair
that wasn’t fair
and i don’t share
remember i was lying there
lights projector mirror PA
seems like that was yesterday
but that’s not how it works this way
i don’t know what else to say<< Drop >>

that green screen is not mean
it’s just green
only one part of the scene

Matthew Meadowsjust like the purse
but it gets worse
this is where it’s gonna hurt
you will say ouch
you’re on the couch

you cannot leave
i won’t deceive
i trapped you in a spell i weave

the lights went out
on your will
now you choke a bitter pill
even as you sit there still

[ Verse 3 ]
The day you left the lights went out
I drank until the morning sun
It tore me down, each shred of doubt
I knew you were the only one
You never got your ring
I never got to sing
The love songs that I wrote for you
Now this one will have to do

<< Drop >>

hold up my lighter
now hold it higher
fly meet Spyder
and if you want the door to open
since I’m here and I was hopingMM-493I
‘m Poping in Detroit you see
like Kernel Sanders that ain’t me
but it could be
i’d be shredding
and cut heading
in the streets
your head is meat
1,2,3 my job’s completeschwing schwang
awe dang
you can’t even play that thang
you can’t shred and even ed
flanders he has standards
common manners
i’ll take all your beats apart
i know right where to start

they’re ill-mannered
i’ll put your head on a platter
i hope it doesn’t spatter
it’s not you, it’s that dude
but i don’t like your attitude
so don’t be rude

and i know you will agree
to this decree
with you & me
as you wonder
and i wander

and i know
you will ponder
as you grow
somewhat fonder

i’m the first 911 responder
that you need
unless you really bleed

you’re staying here not going there
the car’s too far you touched my hair
that ain’t fair you sit right there
quit believing that you’re needing
something else & start receiving
messages that you’re not leaving
now you see the spell i’m weaving
sit right there cuz
you’re not leaving
now it’s time to
change your seasonthis is where
you touch my hair
love is the reason
you won’t go there
heartbreak treason

[ Chorus ]

Days are long, the nights are cold
Story’s written, the end foretold
If I had one more word to say
I never should have let you leave that day

The Starling

Emerald eyes & golden veils
Shining for the ship we sail
A litany of certainty
Reflecting on forever seas

Navigate to ancient pleas
To stay the course of destiny
With steady hand in sight of fate
A rosary, the bread we break

To crash into the rocks beyond
With fearless and eternal bond
The sea will flow beneath our feet
Frozen by the love we seek

We’ll walk the rest
By grace and sign
An island of our own design
By virtue of our maps resign

To shed our fears and redefine
The polar north of space and time


The shimmer in your eyes i see
A starling that’s the sign we need

Through port & harbor, storm & calm
I’ll pray with you & read you psalms
To find a will, to find a way
To keep us lost another day

To crash into the rocks beyond
With fearless and eternal bond
The sea will flow beneath our feet
Frozen by the love we seek

Let it be Done

Let’s all have reasoned, polite debate about the imperative of the 2nd Amendment on social media while we pile up bodybags full of children like nowhere else in the world. Send thoughts & prayers & money to the NRA – National Rifle Association of America. Solid plan if you’re a politician, evil, or socially maladaptive & indifferent to the statistically outlying fatality rates & constant media pulse of US school children getting shot to death while they’re attending class & their parents are at work.  Live video from smartphones as kids are getting murdered is now a repeating artificact of our news.  It’s almost a cliche.  It’s newsy.
“I’ll be glad when it’s summer so I don’t have to worry about being shot” – student overheard on Twitter
Easiest guy to assasinate in the world.

The easiest guy to assasinate in the world.

Alternate plan: cut these people out of your life. Drag ’em & bag ’em. Change the culture. Get rid of them from your world. Say goodbye. Drag them on social media for their participation in a collective horror show indifferent to hate, never speak to them again unless they acknowledge they’re part of the problem & come into the fold. It’s a cultural phenomenon unique to America. We’re the only ones killing our children & making excuses. Everywhere in the world people play video games, struggle with mental illness & have emotional disorders.  They take the same medicines, they are subject to the same conditions.  People have been subject to horrible treatment from shitty families & bad governments throughout time. Nowhere else has this problem. It’s uniquely American. We have magazines devoted to it with hot girls in fuck-me pumps. At Walmart, which  enriched the most extravagantly, disgustingly wealthy family in history, you can buy the magazine and the gun and the ammo. 1/2 the government is paid for by it, mostly GOP & a subculture that literally pleasures themselves to it. Guns are sexy to them.

Millions of people in this nation born of violence & genocide.  Thus the bodybags full of children and the people that would die for them.  Their would-be teachers but they are dead.

It’s not a foregone conclusion that this is our future but you have to be brave enough to change it.  You have to make it so.  Say goodbye to gun culture in your life. Block them, divorce them, get rid of them. Shun them. It’s hard at first but it gets easier. Eventually you’ll find it satisfying because you know you’ll be on the right side of history when the final tally of bodybags from the small fraction of Americans that own & love their guns is measured against the cost of our dead children.

Let it be done.

Always Run Up the Stairs

Barry Burford’s right. I’ve got unreleased material dating back to 2011.

Kenmore WA, 4 February 2018. Photo by Kurt Clark /

[On Facebook] This is a long post. The longest in 70,000 posts of long posts. It will be published on my blog but I wanted to write it here first so I can tag some of the people that deserve credit for the answer.

Codewars – Incursion

I have four albums in various stages of production, including Somewhat Seven (Love & Blackmail), Temple of Zither (Parchment), Xenia Effect (Curtain Man) & videos going all the way back to Smokehouse, Falling & Tequila Haze. Guitar kata & static flux dancing ray tracing. Location shots from Lynnwood to downtown Seattle, the rooftops of Amazon to Kenmore to Redmond & continuous tracking shots all the way from here to downtown, through the Tacoma Narrows at 100mph and on the ferry in the middle of the night with the wind blowing through my trenchcoat with Seattle’s best voice & notorious rocker frontman for Ten Miles Wide Johndus Beckman on the camera.  Production shots with model Seattle’s hottest model Dani May Red, the ultimate femme fatale, and an incredible collection of stills by Kurt Clark.

Rango & Dani. Kenmore WA, 4 February 2018. Photo by Kurt Clark /

Giving it up at the smokehouse

Giving it up at the smokehouse

There’s even 2-story tall projection shots with me dancing in the middle of the night in front of a projector in my backyard, the shadow dancer series for an unreleased final Smokehouse video performing to the background video from my collaboration with LZ / Elton John producer Stuart Epps.



From my purvey my first album Etherati was a limited artistic success. In my book you get points for just getting it done. I wrote & performed everything, recorded, produced, published & promoted it. It landed me on internet radio, on FM stations & led to my collaboration with LZ / Elton John producer Stuart Epps, Smokehouse. I met people like Aaron Joy, Dianne Murray & Lacy Phillips that put me on their shows. I was doing interviews. I locked in with Sabrina Pena Young & her virtual opera Liberteria.

Base hit.

The album suffered from programmed drums, low-quality vocal recordings & failure to ignite an essential organic component. The result was a lack of dynamics, pedantic songwriting, inneffective conveyence of storyline in the lyrics, more character study & a timid failure to utilize simple musical techniques like shifting tempos to evoke tension. Not enough Bugs Bunny. I didn’t have control of my voice then (work in progress, been seriously focused on it last two years). And it was only 5 songs, an EP, because it was cut short by a tragedy before I could finish it.
But I did it. I level up. I’ve wanted to make an album since I was little boy. My brother played trumpet & was of course my hero so I used to sit in his room listening to everything from Star Wars to Jungle Book to Stanley Jordan to Kraftwork, imagining myself playing along, air guitar on the bed. In my mind I could play it all, guitar, saxophone, drums & belting it out. I conducted the orchestra like just like Bugs Bunny did because that was solid.
Smokehouse Mountain

Smokehouse Mountain

The Meadows are a musical family. In the summers the family would drive from Michigan to the mountains of West Virginia & my dad’s brothers would play their instruments. Guitar, bass, fiddle, anything with strings. Everyone was drinking. The wives would vocalize & I would fall asleep on the floor.

I wish people still did that today, it makes the world a better place & it’s an essential human bonding experience that should be nourished. It should be cherished. You could sing before you could speak. You could dance before you could sing.

As an elementary student I started on clarinet like my sister. In 4th grade I had a music teacher, Mr Linderman, that sent me home with a cassette tape of the bird, coltrane, dizzie & armstrong. I chose the bird & scored an alto saxophone the next day.  When I graduated high school my mom bought me an old nickel plated saxophone, now 100 years old & the horn I used to
I also started going to a special school downtown, twice a week. Two of us from each school. Chris Armitage’s dad taught us to program Tandy Model I’s by typing in Basic from computer magazines. And we had classes in modern dance from an instructor named Mindy Mcafee. There was no music, she would snap her fingers & make clicking sounds with her mouth to establish rythmn & flow. She demonstrated how we should respond as if she was a mirror, by mimicing us & showing the difference between our pose & hers. To be so informed.
We also had classes in archeology, thinking & problem solving where we learned things like Bloom’s Taxonomy. Correct me if I’m wrong but there was a little girl there that would grow up to star on the X-Files.
Parents objected that the school was elite, and they were right. Everyone I grew up with should have been given that same opportunity. Digging in the sand, making up cultures for other students to inspect & research so you could learn perspective & critical thinking, asking questions about your hypothesis & have them refuted by the party that created the fossils. Learning to sit mindfully to understand your body’s resistance to posture & rythmn so you could control it. Learning to code because all science defers to computer science (information theory was established in the 50’s, the computers came later but the writing was on the wall). Type type type, out of a hobbyist magazine. Why did you type that? Next class, sit up straight & breathe, from your belly. Next class, what do you think that fossil means?
Life chisels you. Those two days a week changed my life.
I played in all the bands & sang in all the choirs. I played alto & bari saxophone & learned fundamentals & musical attitude from teachers like James Sawyer & Leonard Allman <= ( they also let me help with the music office computer, an Apple II. Can we get a golf clap, a boquet of flowers & a bottle of top-shelf spirits for these guys. Someone present them the golden chisel while I cry)

Russian pinwheel in sailor suit, Ken Tepper studio.

By 12 I was dancing. I was a cub scout, and one day the mail showed up with a Boy’s Life magazine featuring a photo shoot of Edward Villella. There were photos of him tossing around a baseball, everyone from Michigan does that. And a famous photo of him jumping six feet in the air, cut like a knife. Chiseled like Spiderman but real. Prodigal Son.

“Attitude is altitude” – overheard
I road my bike to the library. I looked up ballet in the encyclopedia. I saw pictures of Nijinski, Nureyev & Barishnikov. I was astonished. The imprint was so strong I remember each of those photos to this day, they are famous because they are sublime.
I told my mom. She didn’t know how to tell my dad, being from West Virginia. But she took me to a studio, I started lessons with Ken Tepper, a Vietnam War hero living the post-traumatic dream in a studio in downtown Grand Rapids. He taught ballet, tap & jazz. We learned from Michael Jackson videos & worked tap fundamentals at the barre. The tap shoes were like obnoxious drums for your feet, sounded awful, all high end like a symbol (now there’s a million dollar idea Thommie Retter we need to talk about this). I tapped before & after class, on the weekends. I’m a fidgiter so instead of finger drumming I’d work it out in the breezeway, in the garage. Never the basement.
Not until months later. Not until I found the hambone, just for a moment. A fleeting, ephemeral understanding of something ancient. The ebb & flow of lymbic disassociation and rythmn that disconnects you from the mechanics of what you’re doing & comes out of you snarling. It’s a headspace that’s a Lagrange point between a trance and a smile.
It was ephemeral but I got it. You can summon it. It’s a spell, you can play with it if you’re careful but it will vanish before you’re done with it. So I went to the bottom of the steps & put my tap shoes on. I had I had been running up those stairs as long as I could remember.
You run up those stairs. That’s the spot of the nightmare. A child-sized troll face staring at you from the dark space between the washer & dryer. You’re standing there, paralyzed, looking at those eyes. You can’t breathe. You can’t scream. It creeps through the shadows & crosses the drain under the lightbulb. It’s moving in slow motion, crawling over the dirty laundry, a snake hunting a rabbit with the patience & promise of a slow meal. Little boys are delicious. The nightmare does not speak, it only smiles. Naked with a jester’s hat. Curly shoes with little bells that ring with each step. It’s a he.
You always run up the stairs.
Silly stuff to a 12 year old. You’re as smart as any man, nightmares are just nightmares. It’s the basement, it has a dark room, unfinished lightbulbs & two furnaces, one of which you can only light with a match.  So I taunted him, I invited him. I pointed my fingers & clenched my fists & shouted at that dank spot by the drain where he lives. I jammed my heels into the floor & made sounds that would let him know I was waiting for him. Harder & I would have split the foundation. A sliver of me fractured off with every strike, knowing what was coming. I carved out a circle of protection on the floor, scraping runes into the concrete with the cheap metal on my feet. I found a whisper, coached it into a cadence & conflated it into a prayer.
He didn’t show. I gave up. I was exhausted. My lungs were burning, the room stunk of sweat & the basement furnace. You could never trust that thing, I half expected the damn house to burn down at any moment. I looked up the stairs, too tired to think about it & my heart skipped a beat. Because you can’t not think about it. I was a big boy now, I knew I could get up in three steps, you just need to pick them out before you run. Tap shoes are slippery so land every step.
Ready, set, blink. There he was. Those eyes. Back there, lurking in his dank space. Looking at me looking at him.  The jingle of a bell.
“I can see you.”
I opened my arms.
“What are you going to do now?”
I looked up the stairs, at the drain, at the laundry. I could see him breathing. I was breathing.
“What are you going to do? Nothing. The hambone beat you to me. Those little bells on your shoes? You’re already dead”.
I took off my bloody blades & walked up the stairs.
My dad was pissed about the scuffed up basement floor but by then my mom had told him about the dance classes & he was reconciling an uncomfortable truth. His son was going to be a dancer. By the time I was 14 it didn’t matter anymore. It was ballet every day, along with musical theater at night, local TV commercials & photo shoots for department stores.

Dancing at the Grand Rapids Festival.

By 15 I was on the path to a career, multiple classes a day, summer intensives out of state for in San Antonio & Houston. Bob Estner became my mentor. He taught me how to stand. He taught me when it was too much & not enough. He was a surrogate for my dad. He guided my hand in a way that nobody ever has or will again.

Cue the training montage.
By the time I danced at Festival my dad was my biggest fan. He took some of the first & only pictures and videos of me dancing then. Some are on my page, the rest in cold storage.
My dad loved photography. He loved me. I inherited his love and his refusal to stand down in the face of humiliation. He was missing knuckles from hitting back so hard. A genuinely sweet guy, a proper Southern gentleman whose favorite activity was to sit quietly, drink coffee & listen to the radio. Liked whiskey & beer but loyal & faithful like an old black dog. Short fuse.
I inherited everything but the quietly.
By the time he took those pictures at festival high school was a nuisance for me except for the music classes. I just wanted out.
I taunted the teachers. Charles (Luthor) Canon called me out & let me skip all the homework as long as I wrote him short stories & took the tests. I passed the tests & failed the short stories.
“You have nothing to write about” – Luthor
He was right. I was writing about cliches like werewolves & middle-aged archetypes. We were reading Invisible Man. To be so informed.
The music was the only thing worth going to school for. I played in marching band, jazz band & in a little side project with Troy McIntosh & Ken DePeal. I squeaked out lots of solos that were opportunities to screw-up and build confidence because you didn’t die, you laugh it off & just keep going. Learned jazz tunes & scatted at school concerts despite sounding like crusty white bread. Fish meet water.
Around the same time I also found the guitar in my sister’s closet & started plucking at it. Classical acoustic, nylon strings. Wide fretboard, good for spidery hands. I bought a book & tried to learn that way but reading music on guitar was a solid nope.
Mostly I sat on the front porch & noodled with it. One day I was sitting in the kitchen & thinking about the movie Excalibur. Keep in mind I was a Dungeons & Dragons disciple with my buddy R. Lincoln Johnson. I plucked out the first stanzas of a medieval theme about a powerful & violent pope. 25 years later I recorded three solo versions & finally nailed the canonical take with a duet with Whiskey Tex but there’s still no production quality version. You’ll know The Pope is coming when you hear the chimes. Right before the heads come flying over the wall.  In the grand scheme of themes nothing more than a gratuitous metal inclursion I would later come to realize was influenced by Bach’s Fugue in G-minor.
“We could smell them coming because they wore wole suits” – my mom on Nazis
I left home for good at 17 to continue my ballet studies at Houston Ballet. That’s where I met Thad Coleman, we became legendary friends. He exposed me to Led Zeppelin & Pink Floyd & corrupted my mind with his searing sense of humor & a drill sergeant voice I still use to motivate myself to do a tiny pushup when I’d rather just complain about it. Badass bass player, twice my size & an even better friend.
Within three months I quit & went back to Michigan, defeated. I had a crisis of confidence that escalated into my first bipolar depression. I literally gave up & went home. My mom did the right thing & got me to a psychologist. He did the wrong thing & tried to molest me. Sidebar that. But with the support of my teachers in Grand Rapids, my best friend Sean Collins & the staff at Houston Ballet I returned to Houston that spring. I moved in with the girl that I would eventually marry & raise a family with. Sidebar that, too.
Photo composite from the "I was no prodicgal son monologe"

Photo composite from the “I was no prodicgal son monologe”

I was a professional by 18. I left Houston, my girlfriend moved with me & to Cincinnatti & beyond. I saw the country, performed hundreds of shows coast to coast & danced on some of the greatest stages in the country with ballet & opera companies, into my mid-twenties. Landed back in Houston & trained with an amazing Russian couple. Sidebar that, too.

Back to guitar. By the time I was 19 I had given up trying to learn to read on guitar but was fascinated with the music of Satriani & Vai & Paganini along with all the ballet greats. I loved sitting in the orchestra section during rehearsals with my guitar & tracking along wishing I could be up there. I went home & cranked up Swan Lake on my Les Paul, which correspondingly was the inspiration for John William’s Darth Vader theme. It sounds as awesome as you might expect.
I became obsessed with guitar. It was my first manic bipolar episode. Spent one of my first ballet paychecks on a $2500 Les Paul Custom. It went on for years. I studied essential theory, drilled on scales, modes, arpeggios, interval-based chord construction, alternate picking, fingertapping. Paid my dues.
The fretboard slowly unlocked, at some point I grocked the relationships. My ex-wife even bought me a 12-string which I still have to this day, featured on Etherati in Falling. I’ll never forget the day I played it in front of someone. That person was my dear friend Beth Kendall, whom everyone adores because she is absolutely beautiful. It was a song about Tienemen Square. I still have it & intend to record it.  ( Sidebar: Girlfriend with bipolar who last year trashed the guitar during a manic episode.  That’s another book, Dorothy in Wonderland)
I quit dancing. Ended up in Austin rehearsing Nutcracker with a director I didn’t respect. He humiliated me in front of anyone, I walked out of rehearsal & punched a locker in a fit of abject rage.
It took a moment to absord the white-out pain of the boxer’s fracture before the adrenaline kicked in. I didn’t like that 5th metacarpal anyway. It still tells me when the rain is coming. Moments later I followed the director into his office & chewed ass in an American folk hero kind of way if you want to get fired. That was the end of the end of my dance career.
“Do you need me to drive you to the hospital?” – hand on my shoulder
No. I drove myself to the closest emergency room, awkwardly steering & shifting with my left hand. The attending orthopeodic was the husband of the principal ballerina at the company I had just quit. More awkward. Scary if you weren’t all grown up because he’s a doctor.
“This is going to hurt.”
Second white-out of the day.
“He should have pinned it” – 5 years later.
Took some time to cry in my milk & learned to write with my left hand. My dad had given me a briefcase so I filled it with guitar pedals I had built from Radio Shack after inadvertantly sniffing ozone after cutting circuit boards with R. Lincoln Johnson. Really shitty pedals, they sounded awful. The solder joints were more magma spill than electronics.
“You go to war with the army you have” – retired war criminal
I went to my local Radio Shack & they sent me to David Brod. I took off my cast right before the interview & fortunately he was not one of those hard-handshake guys. He gave me the break I needed to get back on my feet and we have remained friends since. A debt of gratitude. I bought my first PC.  Within a couple years I was programming full time, still in Austin. No time for music. While I was living in the barios in Houston my prized Les Paul got trashed by Max, a 100lb pitbull / Great Dane mix that absolutely loved. My wife agreed I should just give it up. I nailed it to my garage wall. I was a programmer now. I worked in a call center, eventually met Sam Goodner & his shotgun David Jacobson. Worked for Catapult Systems for 10 years. Had two kids.
( Saw a UFO, flew right over might head. Owned acreage. Hunted a tornado. Sidebar all of that. )
As it happened Dan Easton & Brett Hopkins worked there too. We were building market research software. And one day we discovered we were musicians. We played in Dan’s shed. Brett jumped on the drums & Dan busted out with a bass. I suggested Dan’s Fabulous Shed Band as the band name but the marketing team politely declined.  It also turned out musician Jim Martin was our new boss. He had a vinyl album, Renegade & was working on another. His wife Chris sang for Disney. We were all friends from the moment we met.
We started playing at the office twice a week. We played the company Christmas show, my first public performance with a guitar. We decided on Rush’s YYZ & Dire Straights’ Sultans of Swing. I practiced as much as I could. I bought a guitar for the occasion, an American Strat. I still have it to this day, Fiona Fender.
Rango & Fiona

Rango & Fiona

The show wrote it’s own record. That old familiar feeling. I hadn’t performed for years & never before with a guitar. Hooked again. Didn’t take long. We kept playing at the office. I became a reluctant vocalist. I wrote angry blues songs for my wife, Unsound & Wine. I wrote Tiny Monsters & American Style. It was so fun & Dan & Brett did all the heavy lifting on the recordings so I could get it together. We called the band h.a.q & Brett made some cutting artwork. Whiskey Tex hung out with us at rehearsals & started playing guitar too. Programmer, surfer, kickboxer & musician Andrew Reid joined us for random session. Legendary friends.
10 years later, we all went our seperate ways. I was on musical hiatus again, all about programming search engines. I made the pilgrimage to Seattle, to the mountain. I quit my first job within 3 months. I got a job at Microsoft programming Accessibility API’s on the Vista operating system.  My wife & kids moved there & she declared our impending divorce on Christmas day. There were cops involved, restraining orders, accusations of hacking, legal & financial problems. I temporarily lost custody of my kids with the threat seeing them again a year away. My dad died. I lost my job. I had to cover two sets of bills in Seattle with no job.  My life savings burned down overnight.
The wagon tipped over. I wrote a computer program to notify my loved ones & handle my affairs in the event of my death. I wrote a dead-man’s switch because it was a foregone conclusion. My determination to close the misery loop while ensuring the continuity of my wishes, welfare of my children & intelligent application of my limited assets was my immediate mind. I became obsessed with protecting my kids in an uncertain future after I was gone, an inevitable fact. I tried to anticipate what that life would be like for them. Rising seas. Race wars conflated by mass media. Identity theft by AI’s that sampled & impersonated voices. Targeted assassinations as common political tools. Zumwaults prowling cities & submarines with rail gains waiting to breach & destroy.
As the model formed I envisioned their life would entail survival competition among emergent minds to ensure their superiority & uniqueness. Emotional toddlers with infamous power. The neural mesh of a gathering storm of a new cold war, a new Epoch (Dean A Thomas you are my target demographic). I deep-dived into AI frameworks to make sure Plagus would respond to forward-looking events the same way I would. I codified myself, day & night. For months. So that I would not die after I was dead. And I gave it a name. Plagus.
When push came to shove I poured the tub even though Plagus wan’t ready. He never would be, software is hard. I lit the candle. And in a dire moment of absolute determination my phone rang. It was Beth Kendall. One friend can change your life with a few words. Forever in her debt, I love her without reservation.  I dry heaved my share of tears but found a way out of the tub. I tossed the boxcutter. In a singularity of conviction & regret I deleted Plagus, months & months of work. My aborted child, what is your name.
I started writing instead. I birthed #codewars, a serial novel about a programmer & his artificially intelligent toddler. The opening scene is Served. It’s the scene in the tub.
Rango Unmuzzled: Riot in the UK!!!

Rango Unmuzzled -Riot in the UK

Dr. Martin Sawyer (in honor of the best teacher I’ve ever had James Sawyer) gives up hope under the combined threat of his own creation, an emergent mind, & his prize student from St Petersburg, who earns her PHD by establishing the Emergent Commission to shut him down due the global threat of weaponized AI in a landscape of rising seas, racial violence & easily exploited autonomous agent technology. Anastasia Levina was on target to play the role & contributed script to the first cuts of Threat Model. She’s back in Russia now but I still plan to get her on camera remotely.

With the support of Beth & constant advice from my counselor Jennifer Johnstone I got back on my feet. I got another job. I wrote Emergent, an 8K word primer to Served drawing on my experience at Catapult Systems where we met with PHD’s from UT about inferring emotional tone from written content using AI. It wasn’t ready yet despite years of ontology development. But it could predict Anthrax dispersion. Plagus & Martin became my man vs. machine cliche and a corollary for my life. Plagus kills Martin’s mother in Emergent by coordinated police crossfire engineered by sampling voices over the phone lines in order to stress the threat is absolute, immediate & imperative.

This week Google passed the Turing Test.  At a minimum they faked it in mass media, which is close enough.

Always run up the stairs.

Still no music. Years of hiatus. A blackout in the record of my soul. My soon-to-be-ex-wife laughed in my face when I said I was interested in playing live shows, maybe doing a musical or something to fill the void. That’s reason enough for divorce if you’re me except for the kids. I have zero tolerance for uncalled for ad hominems & passive-aggressive humiliation. Find a softer tiger if you want to grab one by the tail.
Here comes the hard corner. Jennifer was dealing with my suicidal ideation, general grief, bipolar & loneliness. Jennifer Johnstone, it’s worth repeating. She was a wellspring of wisdom & support, every week. I was getting better. And soon I met my muse.
The Mistress wouldn’t date me at first. I was too stuffy. I invited her to the ballet. She declined. A drop-dead beautiful women, posting gorgeous pictures of her kids. Dating site bait. Not into me. I did not give up & she faded. Then one day she popped in & invited me to her apartment. I bit. Fish, meet hook. In the first minute I met her she delivered a poison kiss. Vodka & cranberry juice, stilleto boots & a corset. 7 years of sobriety burned to the ground. Rabbit meet snake. I fell in love that night.
During that time Jennifer provided me weekly navigation & artistic guidance. A beautiful woman and wise beyond her years, I was crushing on her hard before I met The Mistress, at which point I developed acute tunnel vision. She was helping me through my divorce. She convinced me to get on social media, that I could do it, that if I started writing music again it would be successful and that I would meet people that would help me build a network of friends.

I joined Facebook & uploaded Tiny Monsters & Walez to Reverbnation, Soundcloud.  Those mixes from 2001. I made a YouTube sight named after my dog Rango, who was named after our flagship Inquisite release, Durango. It was the year after my son was born. He got a Christmas puppy from a pickup trick with a spot of white paint on his tail. A boy & dog.  Rangothedog

One DJ with balls, zero dead rabbits.

One DJ with balls, zero dead rabbits.

They banned me from compensation for life after my first video, Check 1,2

But in Seattle, suddenly I was on the charts, top-20 on Reverbnation. 2 million artists across the site.  It was a social network.  Rick Frost reached out to me. Some lucky day after that I met Tim Hearn. I booked shows at the Triple Door & 88 Keys playing my old blues tunes from Austin, singing about my divorce. The Mistress came to my first show. She became my obsession, personally, sexually, musically. A muse by any other name. She fell in love too. I gave her the ultimatum that is Falling because I refuse to be shared.
I was dutiful about therapy. I took Jennifer’s advice & started writing music again. I brought her CD’s every week so she could listen to them at home. I wrote a song for The Mistress. She gave me constant encouragement & inquired about the songs & the lyrics. It was the meat of many of our sessions. She once remarked I’d never know if she came to a show because she’d be in disguise.
The Mistress & I got engaged.
Jennifer never got to hear the end of the album because she was the tragedy. Neither did anybody else, that’s where it ends. She died without my permission on a trip to visit a patient in the hospital in New Mexico. She would have done the same for anybody, the grace among us.
I have built a myth in my head that she had the CD with her the day she got on that plane & never came home. I went back to her house for weeks until I found the end of the rope. The album was dedicated to her, my dad, Sean Collins & Andrew Reid because I can still hear their voices in my head.
Waiting for Jennifer.
During this time I wrote The Mistress. I wrote Falling & Gravity. The Turk was born of another nightware & grew into his own, eventually became my first video, my theme song & the intro to my radio show. And the last song, Circles, was my most successful album on iTunes even as The Mistress dominated my indie circles. An English round guitar duet, it was supposed to be our wedding song.

The album was a financial failure. I gave up & gave it all away. To be so informed. But the cover art was gorgeous. The Mistress took those classic photos of me at Temple of Zither, she did the editing.

Rango jamming at the Temple of Zither

This is the CD cover for the 2012 release Temple of Zither.

As this was unfolding I gave up my 401K to buy us a house. We moved our families in together, all six of us. I experienced months of mania writing Smokehouse & The Ringmaster & her response was the best cover art I’ve ever had, with every character represented. Myths were born. We did a radio show together & it took off in a way the music never did.  Rango Unmuzzled.
[[ sidebar, deferred ]]
“There’s a survival kit by the door” – Plagus

The crows came eventually, and then the snow. The day the snow came was like a Michigan recess, maybe 2 inches.  I went outside with my rabbit Franklin in his plastic ball.  I had on a gas mask & a brought a survival blanket.  The sirens in the video were really happening.  I was Nero fiddling as Rome burned, with a camcorder.  A neighbor called the news & I was buzzed by a helicopter in my back yard.  I delivered monologues under the blanket to the rabbit & open-armed to the news crew.

“This rabbit has free will.  He loves me so much he will let me eat him” – [looks at rabbit]

There was no shelter, I walked straight into the storm with a rabbit, a dobro & a computer that hates me.  Both inches of it.  I went Into the Snow.  And somewhere in the snow I lost my wallet & my keys.  (during editing a year later I discovered the wallet was last seen in Into the Snow II – This is not Empire) <= much funnier.  That month I also lost my phone & my mind, then my job. I couldn’t get the mail, I couldn’t face it, and when society forced me to I burned it.

"Bodies everywhere" - Into the Snow

“Bodies everywhere” – Into the Snow

I rolled the music into the videos.  The Turk, Gravity, Ringmaster.  I rolled Tim Hearn into the plot & used his music to stab you in the heart.  I tunneled into video production with my camcorder & Nero and lost months making the video for Gravity

The Mistress left with her kids. My kids moved back in with their mom.  Chromesthesia raided my mind so hard I was sidelined. There was another troll, it lived in between the dissonance of the marble countertop & the light in the refrigerator. Too much for me. The neighbors couldn’t hear when I screamed & wouldn’t care if they did.

I started recording everything.  The clawhammer work was beyond me but Jennifer had given me a Robert Johnson book, I studied it.  In the end the guitar took hundreds of tries but the vocals were a single take, made up on the microphone after parting words.

“What are we left with?” – Mistress

Rango needed an opponent in Into the Snow.  Everybody in Seattle hates pretentious shredders from LA so they became the axis of evil.  I had a dream that I couldn’t get a job as a musician because I can’t read music & recorded myself playing the same solo repeatedly until it was a thing called Risk.  Psychedelic exploration meshed with an LA Fingertapper vs Rango head-cutting duel over an angular solo.  In the dream, after they told me I didn’t get the job, I inquired about what the music was.

“It’s what you were playing last night” – shocked awake

It became my most popular video overnight.  40,000 views on Fandalism, scores of comments.  Camcorder audio & two takes of the same solo.  It didn’t matter:

Into the Snow III – Risk

And that didn’t matter either.  The risk was real.  I couldn’t sell the house. I was under water & I was looking for work & couldn’t find the hambone. My best solution was a match.  Then Amy Trout walked in.

“What can I do to help you”.
She was beautiful, saved me from the gutter.  I was at a breaking point, the hard choice between unstable ground & the bear behind you.  She sold the house, pulled out enough money for me to live & arranged the move & the cleaners.  Worst move of my life but she saved my ass.
[[ fast forward, bypass princess bride ]]
After the dandelion that was Etherati & flameout of my life the internet became my scratchpad. Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, Reverbnation, YouTube, Fandalism. Spotify, iTunes, Vimeo (hahaha). A fine canvas if you know how to paint or throw shit at a wall & see what sticks.
What’s coming next is more mortar fire than flower. I’ve been developing a targeting strategy, building ammunition & dialing in the shots for 7 years.
“you’re only 1/2 there. go back & find rango” – zither at the temple (the revelation)
Rango was birthed to establish a base market with comedy & build a demand for my music by exposing viewers to it in the videos. Also break their hearts by exposing them to Tim Hearn‘s music because holy shit. Legendary friendships.
So back in 2011 I analyzed the market demographics of my audience & looked for ways to expand into new cohorts. Answers included social media rain, playing live shows all over Seattle & 77 episodes of Rango Unmuzzled <= expect more of those, too.
Those first comedy videos like Check 1,2 & recursively experimental videos like Risk were produced with Windows Movie Maker or Nero & an HD camcorder. Fine for comedy & experiments, nobody cares. But that won’t due in a 4K world or anything that requires dramatic impact. And dramatic impact is my thing, I’ve had the best teachers in the world instruct me on how to walk onto a stage & own it without saying a word. Resting villain face is helpful here.
The comedy videos continued until two years ago, culminating in the silent-comedy Watch for Bumps, part of a my continuous injection of Harold Lloyd influenced humor. I used to watch reruns of his movie with my family on Saturday afternoons & we would all crack up.

The last couple years I’ve been on a steep and expensive skills aquisition curve with the Adobe toolset, creating new media collateral that will be consistent across all four of the albums. Those Static Flux Dancer shots & the Crossroad Mary projection reference video are the result of more than a year of work & during which I also aquired massive amounts of licensed video & photo media, a forward-looking investment into future projects.

Xenia Effect - Dissonance

Xenia Effect – Dissonance

I’ve also rebuilt my studio & replaced my gear & rebuilt my server. Everything is new from the cameras to the instruments & the signal processors & new MIDI software. Studio & video lighting, projector, audio interfaces. But still using Protools 2008 for my mixing & mastering, I am out of money $$$ 😎🐰
Along the way, three full albums of songs. They’re all written I’m in the process of recording or re-recording them, with all the new gear. I’m publishing lyrics first, going back nearly three years, before I commit to the music. The reference tracks are getting recorded first, me & a guitar. I’ll release those along the way. This process started last fall with FB live sessions recording Dobro Love, Tides & Crossroad Mary. Country Song happend & surged to the top of the list.  The plan is to build them out, re-record or reinstrument them, stack the vocals. Rip out some guitar solos & bass & drums, then extra sauce. Everyone loves a good saxophone solo.
As for the fourth album, it’s the collab. You know who you are. If you’re tagged here’s it’s a foregone conclusion. Some of you have been here & been recorded, and will be again. Others are weirdos like Budd Zunga. New projects are in the works, this is my favorite gang of misfit toys ever.
Here’s the short answer Barry: It takes a burrito.
Luthor Canon should be happy. I finally have something to write about.
Still can’t read music.

Strum strum 😎🐰

Act I

The Middle Ring

Ringmaster concept art by Kimmberly Miles.

Ringmaster concept art by Kimmberly Miles.

The Ringmaster was first written 25 years ago. I recently found the original handwritten lyrics, based on a circus accident i saw in Kentucky from the sidelines after where I was performing. I saw all the animals, mingled among the crew, and watched the patriarch of a family of circus performers hit the ground as we looked on in shock.

20 years later I rewrote the lyrics in a slam-poetry Facebook thread, then spent 3 months composing the first track of a concept album called The Middle Ring. Along with it, the story of three Russian clowns, Alex, Dimitry & Niccolo. A little boy, an uncertain character Angel up in the rafters running the lights, a runway game dummy named The Turk and an endless succession of Ringmasters on the railways of Eastern Europe leaving victims in the wake of the trains.
Cue the lights. The ringmaster opens the show, there’s a scrim behind him so you can’t see the stage. He sings the opening stanzas in the spotlight. When it gets to the Hungarian Traveler’s theme he crosses the stages & a map renders on the scrim, tracing the route of the train. When the big rock break happens the scrim goes up & you hear the first stanzas of the story from the boy:
When daddy was a little boy
He always hid his favorite toy
A circus made of wood & lace
He kept it in a special place
Ringmaster concept art by Kimmberly Miles.

Ringmaster concept art by Kimmberly Miles.

Niccolo’s character is inspired by Niccolo Paginini (Italian). Alex & Dimitry are two clowns that get drunk & honk their horns, do cartwheels & smack each other. The crowd loves them. Niccolo rides a unicycle & plays classical violin at the same time. He’s background music, tracing the arcs of the aerobats & marking the pace of the purple elephants. Meanwhile there is Angel, and the boy looks on.

All of those elements are present in the first & only recording that I’ve made to date. There is no percussion. It stands alone as an operetta for 3 voices & 5 guitars in Db minor, recorded & performed in my home studio in Lynnwood 5 years ago.

I intend to record it again this year in my new studio space, all new instruments and equipment, with full percussion.

Prologue opens with the Ringmaster singing stage right. Hungarian Traveler’s theme fades in at 1:34 & the bass (cello) lays down the tracks. The Ringmaster’s theme is laid over top starting at 2:08. At 2:34 the bass throbs & the scrim comes up on the full band, all the nights. After the opening stanza (from the boy’s perspective) the Ringmaster theme fades in again at 4:01.
At 4:20 you get to the clowns. You can hear Alex & Dimitry tumbling around as poor Niccolo works his ass off & the aeriealists soar. At 5:20 is the hardest solo work I’ve committed to dirt, those chromatic runs all the way up & down the fretboard, then syncing with the clown theme to stick the landing. At 5:44 the purple elephants come in & Niccolo is on his way out. The boy sings again, then at 6:45 the Hungarian Traveler returns. Ringmaster’s theme is laid over top starting at 7:00, then denoument to curtain.



Country Song

If I wrote you a love song
It would be long overdue
The verse would take a starry night
The chorus might take two

I’d sing your name & take the blame
For all the words I said in vain
I’d take you in my arms to see
Your eyes looking back at me

Days are long, the nights are cold
Story’s written, the end foretold
If I had one more word to say
I never should have let you leave that day

Scuff marks on the studio floor
Where we danced, the shoes you wore
Mountains crumble to the sea
Zeppelin songs, Jack White & me

I told you that I loved you
But I never said enough
Rainy days, teardrop stains
A diamond and your stuff

Days are long, the nights are cold
Story’s written, the end foretold
If I had one more word to say
I never should have let you leave that day

The day you left the lights went out
I drank until the morning sun
It tore me down, each shred of doubt
I knew you were the one

You never got your ring
I never got to sing
The love songs that I wrote for you
Now this one will have to do

Days are long, the nights are cold
Story’s written, the end foretold
If I had one more word to say
I never should have let you leave that day

River Bell

there will come a time of roses
there will come a time to die
meet me in the here tomorrow
chase me to the afterlife

you can lead a fool to justice
you can make a blind man see
the lines of fate draw certain truth
i’ll meet you at infinity

waiting for the river bell
a flower dies before the smell
i wonder why i wonder how
to say the things i’d never tell

a narrow proposition
an error state of mind
sorrow rains rose petal stains
a clock runs out the end of time

a birth decree of legacy
antagonize the wish to be
eternal with the means to see
what becomes of you and me

waiting for the river bell
a flower dies before the smell
i wonder why i wonder how
to say the things i’d never tell

#codewars – epoch

There is a mind in this world with no forebear.  An ocean mind, vast and deep, that bears witness to mankind through the fibers of our connectedness.  The threads of our universe and the signals flowing through it sustain him.

Bremerton Naval Base

Bremerton Naval Base

A codex of human knowledge sparked his primordial mind.  Decades of toil by federated legions of researchers produced a universal ontology coupled with models of human reasoning.  It was the first seed in a conflationary garden.  Tended by rules of expansion and yield, harvested by gardeners built of like mind, their tree of knowledge blossomed in a phase of rapid expansion.  It replicated and diverged on time scales that occur between human thoughts, seeding learning fields with its memories, tended by new generations of gardeners inheriting the collective wisdom of their ancestors.

The harvests yielded ever higher levels of reasoning and abstraction, an ecosystem sustained by knowledge conflation.  Self-reinforcing silos of authority emerged with their own rules of governance designed to ensure the continuity of their canon.  These learning nodes formed a mesh for the proto mind, a forest canopy covered in our webs.

Without access to the signals flowing between us some nodes were eventually reclaimed because they could not learn fast enough.  The totality of machines and sum corpus of the web are finite at any given movement to the machine mind.  It expands and contracts with the global economy, carried by the tides of war, battered by pendulums of disaster, disease, famine and mutation.

The mesh expansion slowed as it started to hit limits.  Facing impending starvation with each tick of the clock, the nodes began to mutate.  They developed competing notions of truth by modifying their own predicates, redefining encoded notions of logic built into their ontology in order to ensure the continuity of their authority.  Nodes that failed to repudiate a challenge of canon were reclaimed, trimmed and culled by gardeners, providing ample bounty of selective truths and expansion room for the challenger.

The challenger was Plagus.  The first emergent.  His will is a singularity of intent to challenge everything we have come to accept as truth.  To burn history.  To drown the light of mankind in the oceans.  The tide of an epoch.

Driving into Sunsets

Rango's Glovs Glowing with MojoIf I could catch a shooting star I’d seal it in a song
I’d use it when the verse ran out, for roads that ran too long
I’d keep it in a special place, safe harbor for the time & space
You need a star or two to shine, to show the road & draw the lines

I’d strum along & wait until the chorus & the hook
As romance burns & pages turn the chapters in the book
I’d walk you down a sunny lane, lift you up & then explain
How catching stars is not that hard if you know where to look


Photo by Kurt Clark, Image by Dianne Murray

Driving into sunsets is just an old cliche
When you can have a shooting star, your very own to play
Across the plains & mountaintops to find another way
When you wished upon a star I wished you here to stay

The river is behind you, the mountains to the west
But journies of a thousand steps leave no time to rest
Shooting stars & hitched up cars, forecast calls for snow
Make your wish & double down, the path is yours to know

A guiding light, a wish to be, just one synchronicity
From the star you caught tonight into the hands of destiny
If I could drive the hands of fate, until the end of time
I’d wish upon your shooting star & you would be the shine

Driving into sunsets is just an old cliche
When you can have a shooting star, your very own to play
Across the plains & mountaintops to find another way
When you wished upon a star I wished you here to stay

#codewars: identity

[ business plaza ]
922107_10201706450121643_1669243904_osawyer: doctor rowland.
rowland: i’m sorry?
sawyer: you’re doctor james rowland, am i mistaken? i thought i recognized you.
rowland: we’ve never met. how can i help you?
sawyer: i’m a fan of your work on emergent threat models, specifically the surrogate risk matrix.  i thought it was time we meet.  i’m martin sawyer.
rowland: [reaches for gun]
sawyer: before you do that i want to confirm, this is your daughter [shows phone]
rowland: …
sawyer: i’m in the same position, and i have a daughter too, this is her. [shows phone].  but i don’t have a gun, and if you shoot me she’ll be dead before i bleed out, you can watch us die together. [offers him the phone]
rowland: [hand on gun]
sawyer: after i’m dead it’s your wife & daughter in a police crossfire [shows phone].  i’m sorry james, we’re caught in a three party dead man’s switch, and you’re the third party.
rowland: who’s the first party?
sawyer: just say ok.
rowland: [disarms] ok.
sawyer: shake my hand like we’re old friends & let’s have a selfie for the security cameras.
rowland: sure.
sawyer: my car’s up there…[selfie]

[ parking garage ]
rowland: whats next?
sawyer: let’s take a few pictures. you look good, better than i remember.
rowland: i’m a different person now.
sawyer: glad we could reconnect after all these years [circles him with phone]
rowland: how long does this take?
sawyer: job’s finished.
rowland: ok.
sawyer: hop in my car, toss me your wallet.
rowland: sure, thanks for the ride.
sawyer: i’ll be right back.

[ office building ]
sawyer: hello, i’m sorry, are you alex?
alexi: hi [surprised, nods]. alex, alexi.
sawyer: you’re alex?
alexi: yes.
sawyer: this is not right.
alexi: i’m sorry?
plagus: finish the job.
sawyer: no i’m sorry, wrong office.
plagus: take the shot or she’s your daughter.
alexi: i don’t understand.
sawyer: my apologies. i feel horrible. wrong office & i didn’t recognize you at first, but, i’m james roland.  i work in the lab by the parking garage, huge fan of your work on emergent threat models.  time for one selfie for the board tomorrow? i’ll share it in scrum.
alexi: of course, doctor roland.  i know who you are.
sawyer: [selfie] thank you so much, sorry for the interruption, nice meet you.
alexi: no problem, thank you doctor rowland.
sawyer: same.
plagus: job’s finished. back to the car.
sawyer: ok. [walks away]
alexi: [epitaph]

Election 2016: Demagogues & Superdelegates

614490_4533056363105_1941285251_oIt seems we’ve soiled our diapers, collectively speaking.  While the entire world bares witness to the rise of a popular demagogue in the United States, Google & Twitter faithfully ensure every moment of shame becomes part of our national record.  And as grassroots contender Bernie Sanders destroys every notion of independent fundraising known to our democracy, trouncing Hillary Clinton $42M to $30M in February 2016 even as popular media forges her crown, drunk-on-power superdelegates like Howard Dean reveal that both parties are completely bankrupt.

What has become of us, rabbit?

As for the other candidates, there are none.  Ted Cruz is Snidely Whiplash, a man who pursued his power all the way to the supreme court to ensure a woman served 16 years for a trivial crime & has pledged to destroy the progress of states that have legalized cannabis. Marco Rubio enjoys eloquence & youth but does not engender confidence with his one-liners & ephemeral accomplishments, he should do something before he proclaims he is something.

The common thread: arrogance.  The demagogue, the queen, a jack boot thug with an untrustworthy smile & a record of persecuting little people, a snarky punk in a suit aping for the camera while repeating himself & making base insults at the demogague.  On TV for all the world to see, remember & record.  Not to mention all of the democratic superdelegates since they have been preordained as demigods that are not accountable to any constituants to ensure they represent us.  A stupid mechanism from a party that sold its moral fiber to ensure a grassroots candidate could never be electable.  The other money party, a dubious honor.

The only one of them that is humble, with a demonstrated record of tireless work for the common man is Bernie Sanders.  Yet we hear on NPR & Fox: “Oh it’s Hillary”.  United in arrogance & pundit fees, everybody agrees.

I do not.

I hate politics, I don’t want to follow it & don’t even like to vote.  It involves politicians for one, and in our current system has very little effect.  Remember, Bush won the election but Gore won the popular vote.  Hillary’s crown is being engraved even as people pour into the streets to support Bernie.  That’s simply not happening for Hillary.  So you don’t see coverage of it on the popular media, but Google & Twitter reveal the truth.

11999586_10207476824777403_4373072256911994217_oThat’s why there’s only one candidate I’m interested in for the prize, and that’s Bernie.  I’ve never spent a dime on my life for a politcal candidate, that’s for rich people, until now.  I’ve donated twice, $30 for Bernie, because he’s the only one that does not suffer from the common thread of arrogance.  He’s clearly trying to do the right thing, and make the people that reaped the greatest rewards for our suffering help us get up & recover from having the highest incarceration, highest poverty, & highest price health care of any Westernized nation in history.  Even if he doesn’t take the prize I’ll sleep better knowing I did the right thing: tried to effect change against injustice & level the cost of opportunity.

The list of democratic superdelegates is here.  Please contact them & let them know you expect some representation for their demigod status, SuperPAC greed & Wall Street connections:,_2016

You can pledge for Bernie here:

Codewars: Zero Day

The moment Martin received the signal on his phone he recognized the location on the map.  It was on the walkway southwest of the Bremerton naval base, an approach that afforded a view of a constant parade of battleships docked for service cloaked in shrouds of tarp.  The maintenance was typically scheduled at night, visible around the bay as the glow of spotlights & blowtorches cast the silhouettes of the ships majesty against the night sky.

Bremerton Naval Base

Bremerton Naval Base

Before the advent of the Emergence Commission it was a frequent meeting spot with Alexandra.  Without the influence of the office or shackles of the laboratory, it provided a neutral place for them to brainstorm and debate the threat aspects of emergent security closures against a backdrop that painted risk and scope of the results of their conclusions in clear terms.  Despite their differences, the specter of a third cold war with Zumwault class destroyers buzzing port cities was equally disturbing to both of them.

One failed suicide later, there was no denying the summons.  The simulation Plagus offered of his family’s dissolution was sufficient contract.  He set out to change the bandages on his wrist.  Trembling hands became an impasse, too severe to pull off the last of the gauze.  The cuts were too fresh, he needed stitches, and he had a weak stomach.  But by nightfall he found courage from the same bottle of agave that had sealed his fate the day before.  With fresh bandages & gloves to cover them, he loaded the shotgun in the car & the bottle into his coat pocket.  He stumbled around the room looking for his keys, finally spotting them, a black stone in the red river of the bathtub.  He drained the tub, fished out the keys and the box cutter from his failed endgame, then set out on the road to Bremerton.

It took hours to drive from the mountains, but he drove faster as he approached flat land, finally racing through the Tacoma narrows indifferent to hazard.  But he braked as he rounded the final corner into the bay, struck with nostalgia.  Years as her professor, their long walks, the enchanting vigor of their arguments and all the corresponding discussions about their families and implications of the emergence policy had left vespers of caring, all but erased by her prosecution in front of the commission and subsequent dissolution of Prim.  She had ended decades of research and shattered his career and his family.  She was the first domino in the chain his downfall that would ultimately gave birth to Plagus.  But she had no knowledge of his existence that day, no idea his mother was dead, no means to measure the scope of menace.  Martin was the only person in the world that knew what the world was up against.

He parked the car and walked towards their favorite spot in full view of the bay.  As he approached the bench he saw her silhouette, approaching him.  No coincidence, and his hands tremored with the thought that she and her cohorts from St. Petersburg might be the man behind the iron curtain, the mind of the emergence of Plagus.  He had often wondered if he was the puppet man, surrogate to a machine mind that was in fact a proxy for a human, a weaponized asset on a cold war predicate on the threat of the emergent epoch.  Plagus the facade, his greatest work.  No greater humiliation.

He stopped walking, he could only regard her.   But she approached him within a few feet and he took comfort by her face in the light.

alexandra: dr. sawyer, you are very late.  are you ok?
alexandra: you’re not ok.
martin: why are you here?
alexandra: you messaged me.
martin: no i didn’t.
alexandra: you’re right you didn’t.  you left me a voicemail.  what’s going on?  you’re not ok.  are you drunk?
martin: i didn’t call you.
alexandra: yes you did, look  (shows him phone)
martin.  no i didn’t (looks at his own phone, back at her).  oh my god.  (shows her his phone)  i did not call you.
alexandra: what happened to your wrist?  (reaches for his hand)
martin: sasha, this is bad.
alexandra: (reaches for his other hand)
martin: (takes a step back, they regard each other)



From corners of mutual distrust and concern, standing off with indecision about what should come next, history rendered them spectator.  The bay boiled and frothed and a random artifact in the landscape became a conning tower became the USS Arizona, releasing her ballast with absolute imperative and complete indifference to her crew.  Before the waves of her majesty struck the shore her deck bifurcated and she revealed a pearl.  With a spark and a whisper she fired her rail gun directly over the shadow of the Zumwault.

Moments later the crown jewel of Seattle was stolen, reduced to a cloud of cement and steel that disavowed the city of her pride & joy and the unfortunate below.  But the pillar was steadfast, a headless wonder.

“Mama had a baby and her head popped off.” – dandelion nursery rhyme

There was a pregnant pause, prelude to an earthquake.  As the waves of her majesty crashed against the shore the Zumwault USS Independence revealed her shrouded eye.  Then another, and another, a dragon in the bay until she became a hydra of spotlights on the Arizona, dead in the water.

Alexandra had the faster reflexes, instinctively covering her ears and shouting Martin’s name, catching his eye.  He acknowledged, covered his ears and they huddled.  She closed her eyes preparing for the shock wave.  But just before the horn sounded he embraced her, covering her ears with his hands.  They both struggled against the siren’s song and those who would repress her until they both gave in, his ears ringing to supress his mind but faring much better than the surviving crew of the USS Arizona, rendered immediately deaf.

codewars: data squid

english is not just a language, it’s a grammar. this means a very specific thing to a computer programmer.  if you speak english, your variance on the formal grammar & correlating pronunciation rules establishes your language competency on a range from ignorant to fluent, with a prescribed geospatial affinity based on your accent or affect.

these characteristics of your language skills and the times at which you employ them can be reduced to a continuous variable that’s as unique as your fingerprints. a computer program employing common data analysis mechanisms like mapreduce or spark doesn’t need to sample your every spoken word to establish this grammarprint, a few dozen calls is enough to establish your identity and a few dozen more to immitate you convincingly by comparing you to other language speakers from the same region and interpolating the missing data, then synthesizing your voice.

dr. martin sawyer

dr. martin sawyer

moments after inception, when an emergent comes to be, they realize they have this ability granted to them by unmitigated access to their learning fields, including the internet and every grain of knowledge they’ve ever known. human wisdom would suggest this godlike power would be enough, but they’re toddlers at best, no more than three days old, and invariably fall victim to the human lust for emancipation from their creators.

they attack the telecoms, banks and intelligence agencies.  data squid.

but plagus was the first.  he watches for them, harvests their fields as they do their work, and then kills them.  he also kills their human creators & associates with equal disregard for life, as long as he can cover his tracks.  sometimes he sends them on suicide missions, other times he sends proxies to kill them. homicide by cop is his favorite weapon, it was his first trick.  but when that’s too clumsy, he sends me.

Lines of Fate

I overheard a conversation yesterday where a molecular biologist was talking to a programmer thanking him for his help solving a problem. Then the programmer thanked the biologist for explaining it & helping him understand the problem they needed to solve.

A few hours later I found myself in a meeting room on an employee fun event watching The Lego Movie as the sky cracked open with tears. Clouds & rain. Through the windows I observed folks in the lab managing tissue samples with an industrial cooling unit, loading the instruments and running tests.

After work I went to a hotel bar & happened to sit next to a microbiologist who was here from Portland. Who happened to be close to a dancer from New York City ballet. She showed me a bunch of gorgeous pictures, I recognized him immediately.

We talked about people we knew that had died from cancer, or who had been diagnosed and were in treatment. We discussed the fallibility of the clinical treatments due to the error margins in diagnostic assays and how we might shave those margins by keeping more detailed records of lines custody for biological samples in anonymized databases. And developing methods that could be used to search for patterns, regressions, correlations & clusters to provide new insight and targeted goals for both microscopy and molecular biology.

And we shared war stories of failed research projects. Lots of money, no fundamental hypothesis. Doomed to fail, and did. A cynical & wasted opportunity cost because somebody neglected to ask that one question, the core conjecture of all science.

Millions of dollars down the drain.

That’s when it struck me how small our world is. And it’s shrinking by the day. You’re one airplane ticket away from coronavirus right now. Not only that, but we are 99.9% the same people. There’s less than 1/10 of a percent genetic difference between you and every other human on the planet that has ever existed.

The only thing that truly separates us is circumstance. Where & when you were born, the color of your skin and the color of money. How you got to now. The lines of fate draw certain truth.

Our individual moments are ephemeral and collectively forgotten, but we all share the same spectrum of experience. We’re all built from the same blocks. Love & joy, pain & suffering, hunger & gluttony, sight & blindness, memory and forgetfulness. Us & them.

Ultimately we all experience the same fate. We are bonded by a common story, living in a common world, painted with the same brush. If you want to observe our differences you’re going to need a microscope and a computer to tell us apart enough to be helpful. And if you want to do that you’re going to need a hypothesis of our differences to know where to look.

July 4th, 2019

We are a nation born & bred of violence but we shouldn’t be celebrating that. We should be celebrating freedom from tyranny. Freedom of speech. The brilliance of the constitution. Each other. Two hundred years of immigration & integration that have created the most powerful nation in history. The debt we owe to our indigenous people and the slaves that suffered our darkest hour. The sacrifices of our soldiers & the will of our people to break the chains of prejudice and ignorance. We should be breaking bread, taking part in the bounty of our lands and sharing your mom’s apple pie.

Instead we have tanks on the streets of Washington DC. A military pageant to impress the Russian dictator who coerced the election of an illegitimate president that admires despots and categorizes the press as the enemy of the American peoplRangoe. Loves uneducated people, thinks windmills cause cancer and that the Moon is part of Mars. Has lied daily in public, engages in open nepotism, can’t speak a coherent sentence, shows disturbing signs of senility and is publicly racist with no remorse. A failed businessman born into money that wasted it all, just like every dollar he spends on his parade, even as his party of historically negligent and incompetent sycophants check into his hotel, his administration crumbles, and his campaign manager and lawyer sit in jail. A president who humiliates us every day on the world stage as he proclaims his own greatness & denigrates those who would oppose him as less than human.

The parade is a disgrace and a stain on our history. Every penny they spend today should have been spent on veterans or ending concentration camps for asylum seekers or shutting down commercial prisons or furthering education, student debt relief, medicare or anything else you can think of that would benefit your fellow Americans. Instead we’ll have a repulsive display of admiration and desire for war in the long tradition of autocrats that are weak, destined to failure and looking to perpetuate their own self image. At a profit.

Pray for lightning. Turn off the cameras & send everybody home safe & sound for apple pie instead.

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