Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Wisdom of Insecurity

Alan Watts 3rdarm

On the one hand, there is a way of being so anxious about physical pleasure, so afraid that you won’t make it, that you grab it too hard. You just have to have that thing. And if you do that, you destroy it completely. Therefore, after every attempt to get it you feel disappointed. You feel empty, you feel something was lost. And therefore you want it again. You have to keep repeating, repeating, repeating because you never really got there. And it’s this which is the hangup, this is what’s meant by attachment to this world, in an evil sense.

Small growth 3rdarm

But on the other hand, pleasure in its fullness cannot be experienced when one is grasping it. I knew a little girl, to whom someone gave a bunny rabbit. She was so delighted with the bunny rabbit, and so afraid of losing it, that taking it home in the car she squeezed it to death with love. And lots of parents do that to their children. And lots of spouses do it to each other. They hold on too hard and so take the life out of this transient, beautifully fragile thing that life is. To have it, to have life, and to have its pleasure, you must at the same time let go of it. And then, you can feel perfectly free to have that pleasure in the most gutsy, rollicking, earthy, lip licking way. Whilst whole being taken over by a kind of undulative, convulsive ripple, which is like the very pulse of life itself. This can happen only if you let go.

Alan Watts, the subject of a forthcoming documentary

Catfish Corners

Neutral Syrup 3rdarm

I ate so much catfish last night. I was craving it all day, and I didn’t consciously know why. I did an internet search for best catfish in Chicago, and found a restaurant in East Garfield Park that had a perfect score. It was called Wallace’s Catfish Corners. I called Etta and we headed over. The catfish was fried with quality breading, but there were bones in all the fillets. The catfish fillets were of a strange shape, the shape of cephalopods. The tails were like spiral arms. I ate so much catfish and put all the bones in a little dish. An old man at the next table was preaching, but I couldn’t understand him. I could not comprehend his words, though they were obviously religious words, as he was preaching. I picked the bones. Later I had a sundae at Tastee Freez.

Pink river dolphins 3rdarm

In waking the next morning, I analyzed my dream and understood why I had wanted catfish. In my dream, pink river dolphins were tortured to death, and there was an ominous, incomprehensible religious speaking baby doll. I would call it a nightmare. I remembered an article I had read in Sunday’s paper about how fishermen in South America were using chopped up river dolphin meat as catfish bait. Using this contraband bait they caught unbelievable quantities of catfish. I have always been fascinated by river dolphins and all fresh water dwelling mammal beings who are on an intelligence par with human beings. I wonder whether such creatures ever lived in the Great Lakes. And catfish is one of my favorite fish to eat because in North America at least it is farmed sustainably, or sometimes noodled wild. It makes me angry that people are killing rare river dolphins that probably won’t exist on Earth soon to catch catfish. Apparently and paradoxically, this makes me hungry for catfish.

-for further reading, Fishermen in Amazon See a Rival in Dolphins, by Alexei Barrionuevo


The big cat

I ran in Humboldt park. What I ate today: Mango, pineapple, half a bagel with cream cheese, two Mexican lollipops, two big bites of a day-old microwaved egg cheese and ham sandwich on croissant (Etta forced me), a whole bag of Trader Joe’s Baked Jalapeño Cheese Crunchies, bowl of chocolate cats cookies, large green apple, vegetarian jibarito, rice and beans with the pork picked out, a Puerto Rican cupcake.

Unshine Staurant

Everybody loves the unshine 3rdarm

Two old women in the Skokie Salvation Army were either friends or sisters. One had thick-framed eyeglasses. The other had a stooped neck. They rolled a cart through the store, inspecting every object, talking about it. “What is this for, to clean something?” was muttered while looking over a squeegee. “Got to keep moving, keep moving,” said the woman with glasses, while turning down an aisle. She looked up at me, holding a dog-sized decorative camel, and said approvingly that, “It’s good to know other people like the same things I like.”

Getting There

Buena park

The bike ride to work is ten miles. It’s a good wake up early in the morning. It makes me feel connected to this place. Some days the lake is choppy, and waves roll in. There can be people, or I may be alone. One day the fog draped Lake Michigan. It was all a void.

Lake Michigan fog

I saw a man pulling his bicycle on a Segway.


Every birthday was marked with a fish and shrimp cake

In 2006, for unknown reasons, the polar bear mother at the Berlin Zoo rejected her two offspring. Zookeepers had to rescue the baby bears, no bigger than guinea pigs, from the enclosure with a fishing net. One died. The other was raised, controversially, by the human hand of Thomas Dörflein. It was named Knut. Thomas slept on a mattress beside Knut’s crate every night. He bathed, played with, and fed the small white bear each day. Knut ate cat food and vitamins. The inseparable pair became famous around the world. Two years later, at the age of 44, Thomas died suddenly of a heart attack. Knut died just as suddenly, one Saturday last month. Standing on a rock, he spun in circles, had a seizure, then fell into the water, where he died. The Berlin Zoo has made plans to stuff the bear’s body, and put it on display. Some comments:

Thomas Dörflein and Knut 3rdarm

“When someone dies in your family I think you don’t want him stuffed in a museum. Knut is not only a polar bear for people, he is a friend, a family member.” Jochen Kolbe “I don’t want to see him stuffed. I want him to live on in my head as he was before, when he was alive.” Triste Dittrich “The bond between man and the bear, this was something very special.” Ergün Özmen “People take their human feelings and put them into animals. The problem is after the death of Knut there was all the overwhelming feelings. While that’s O.K. for humans, in my opinion it’s not O.K. for animals.” Bernhard Blaszkiewitz “Are you going to make fun of us, too? There are a lot of people who say, ‘How can you be so upset when so many people have died in Japan?’ What do you know about how I feel about what happened in Japan? I’m grieving about a very special bear.” Doris Webb

-from the NY Times Berlin Journal, For Mourners of Knut, a Stuffed Bear Just Won’t Do, by Michael Slackman

Fertility Racket

Fertility racket by Betsy Odom 3rdarm

Ceramic, rubber, Velcro, leather, reflective tape, gold leaf, Livestrong bracelet, underwear elastic.
By Betsy Odom, featured at Hyde Park Art Center

It’s Always Roosters or Swans

Make you a man

Don’t miss the Circo del Gringo, the greatest show on earth! The death-defying trapeze girl! The boy magician! Come and see them now! Come on! See the tiger from the lndian jungle! The elephant from darkest Africa! The furry monkey! Roll up! Roll up! Go and see the Circo del Gringo! Alladin, the world’s smallest elephant trainer! Roll up! Roll up! (Elephant trumpets) Roll up! Roll up! Come and see…


Right here, many years ago, Lirio, a young girl, was attacked by the Terrano brothers. She tried to fight them off with all her strength but they cut off her arms. They raped her and left her to die in a pool of blood. And on this ground, miraculously still wet with her holy blood, we built our church. -This is paint! -No, it’s holy blood. -This is paint! -lt’s holy blood! -Do you hear me, crazy woman? lt’s paint! -lt’s blood! lt’s blood! -Feel it! Feel it! This is paint! lt is paint! This is paint! -Holy blood! lt’s holy blood! (Angry shouting) lt’s holy blood! -lt’s paint! -Holy blood. Holy blood! ¡Cantemos todos! Holy blood. Holy blood! Holy blood! Holy blood! Holy blood! Holy blood! Holy blood! Holy blood! Holy blood! Holy blood!

-from Alejandro Jodorowsky’s 1989 gem, Sante Sangre

Minnie & Moskowitz at Ikea

Ikea rainbow

The couple in the cardboard ad’s gaze fell on the small rainbow formed serendipitously from the overhead fluorescence.

Swedish for dumpa

Later I learned the Swedish word for “dumper,” tied as it was, in a rather un-American way, to recycling.

Back to School


I am selling chicken eggs on the campus of the college I briefly attended a decade ago.