The Haberdashery

A Practical Application of Infinity - attempt 1 


I seem to take a particular, 
flavor of offense
overtly ordinary in it's openness, 
when I see someone acting out some bullshit or other
    we're not all here in the room, 
and like 
    we're not all paying attention to the
inappropriate misappropriation
(redundant? is there ever a time when 
misappropriation is appropriate?)
-- Misappropriation? --
of the moment 
by corralling the attention(s) available 
in the room 
for the personal fulfillment 
of some ego-based need. 
So I process the feelings 
that are produced in me 
by it,
my personal gourmet blend of offense --
   equal parts taking my "self" too seriously, 
   and not seriously enough --
my emotional reaction cocktail,
my mixture of mechanical machinations,
as it were
(or maybe it's 
that I'm only now 
becoming aware of 
latent feelings 
that were produced in me 
by some other 'it'
years gone by
by now) 
sitting silently, 
bearing the behavior 
by observing the behavior, 
    and its effect on the current setting 
    and its constituents 
    (including myself), 
while this particular ego 
  (get thee behind me Satan, 
  and all that business) 
attempts to bend the world, 
and all of us in it,
to its will
-- I hesitate to use the word 'ego', in fact; 
   I find loathing in here for it, 
      the word, 
      and maybe the thing,
      the only way an ego can
   but it does seem 
   to most accurately describe 
       the event of possession 
            or otherwise, 
            depending upon your perspective 
   of an individual's selfness 
   in the moment 
   in relation to the surrounding area,
   and all parties involved
   by way of protecting,
   like some so-called super hero 
   headed up 
some so-called slippery slope, 
   a non-causal, 
   already broken, 
   chagrin implied 
   by way of this particular ego -- will unfold 
all of its strategies for obtaining 
what it needs from the environment 
given time and understanding 
(compassionate, or no) -- 
in truth, we're all doing that at some level
(bending the world around us to our will),
it's my belief, 
none of this would even be here, 
      or maybe pointing out,
          or maybe citing, 
that the only existence that exists 
is a relational one: 
I exist, 
It's then that I realize 
I must do it too, 
in my own way. 
Why else would I react at all?
there would be no cause for offense
if no one were horning in on my game
why would I be playing a game..?

A Perspective On the State of the Music Scene in San Francisco With a Marketing Filter 

Originally published on DavidWalks, the walking podcast. David Smooke: Welcome to David Walks episode 22. Today I'm with Derek Bernard, musician of, his band is Haberdasher. Today we are going to talk about music marketing. I will let Derek get it going here. Introduce yourself. Derek Bernard: Hi my name is Derek. As David said, I'm with the band Haberdasher. I'm the lead singer, [technique 00:00:32] rhythm, and lead guitar. With a group of fellas and one lady by the name of Dave Walsh, Michael Malinski, Michael Michael we call him, Sam Hertig on the bass, and then Liz Irby singing harmonies. We've done this music project now, I guess, this iteration of Haberdasher has been fully together since January actually, with the addition of Liz. The rest of the crew we were together for about a year, a little bit more than a year now. We are working towards ... it's more acoustic, we have a cajon and percussion elements. We are working on shows that emphasize the spirit of consciousness. Where we from start to finish we try and dip into that stream and stay there all the way through. David Smooke: Today we are walking to The Devil's Teeth in the sunset. It has really good egg sandwiches I've heard. Is that what they are? Derek Bernard: Yes they are. Delicious. David Smooke: The girl in the Uber next to me was telling me all about it. She was like, "Make sure you get the special." I don't know what that means. Derek Bernard: Well that's going to be … David Smooke: I'll say the breakfast sandwich special. Derek Bernard: Nothing short of magnificent would be the word to use. Yeah she knew what she was talking about, the Uber driver. David Smooke: This was the lady in the Uber, the designer. Derek Bernard: Oh that's right. David Smooke: I'm doing Uber pools as part of my recruiting strategy. Derek Bernard: Smart. David Smooke: Go in there, ride with some other smart peoples. Just take Uber pools all day. Derek Bernard: Those start ups. David Smooke: Anyway, so we are trying to market the band. I met Derek actually on Craigslist like all great friends. Meeting you on Craigslist I was looking for a music teacher to start learning the ukulele. Now we trade services, marketing for music. He teaches me music. I apply these B2B marketing techniques and see if they work. There's been some learnings. Because it's a lot different to market a band than a software. Derek Bernard: The approach is singular I would say, like with the marketing and everything and just sort of seeing all the different facets and how to reach out to different outlets and audiences. David Smooke: It's a cool media to market because basically if you look at content around softwares, it's like trying to get your content to all these different readers who could be potential buyers, but with music a lot of times just consuming the content is the goal. It's trying to make some rich media, like right now we're doing audio, trying to do some video because you can ... I don't know, it's cool. Like if you watch a video to sell a product, it's like watching the video isn't really a win, I mean it's kind of a win, you know you are widening the top of the funnel. Derek Bernard: But there's exposure in that. David Smooke: You need X + 1 to watch it to get X, to convert. But here, there are similarities there with tickets and sales and gigs, but also first it's like, "How do I get any type of content about the band in front of eyeballs who could become potential listeners and ears?" Derek Bernard: Absolutely. Then have them come up to shows hopefully and maybe that would be the win. Build the audience because they're interested. David Smooke: Yeah, it would be in terms of paying. Derek Bernard: Hopefully they'll charge you for their shows a little bit. Something, we are trying to earn something. David Smooke: What are your goals? What do you think the band ... What's it needs in marketing? Think backwards. Start with what you want the band to be, and then what steps do we need to take? Like you were talking about finishing an album. Derek Bernard: That's definitely one of those many goals that are in there. That seems to be part of the canon of musicians, or a career as a musician. It's just one of the things you do. David Smooke: Redoing the walls back there. Derek Bernard: I think a good ... like starting it from the end, I think a career making maybe, I don't know, $50,000 a year for everybody in the band. You know? Some sort of four year touring around and … David Smooke: So you got ... wait six or five? Derek Bernard: Five. David Smooke: Five? You need to gross ... well you need to net $250,000. Derek Bernard: Right. Exactly. That to me would be a nice goal. David Smooke: Okay, so then how are we going to get $250,000? You know there's ... well they say millionaires have seven flows of revenue. Seven flows of income revenue is the average. Derek Bernard: So like merch … David Smooke: I forget how they ...[Crosstalk 00:05:32] Yeah exactly. Shows. You've got your bars, if you get into corporate events, I don't know if that's the path you want to go, it's like mellower, but ... Basically you want to keep playing in bigger rooms for more money. It's regardless of where the rooms are. I mean it obviously matters but to grow you want to just keep playing bigger rooms. I guess it's a little bit not creative, but it is like a milestone. Derek Bernard: It's like it conflicts with the artist's kind of vibe. David Smooke: Oh it absolutely does. Derek Bernard: It's a weird, it's like I'm always, sort of skirted around all of that, but it does seem to be a necessary piece of the do-it-yourself musician. David Smooke: Yeah I mean it's ... yeah. You see the crazy thing like even all the way to the top, how much crazy shit they do just to get in the news. All the musicians doing crazy shit, and sometimes it's their personality, but other times it's just like … Derek Bernard: Stunts basically, right? David Smooke: Some stunts I think and also it's just part of the game, even if it's a small thing ... Yeah you've got to watch shit. It's good to be out in the sunset though because it's not human shit. When you're in the city and you see shit, it's probably human shit. Derek Bernard: I was down around 7th Street I was walking up to the courthouse to pay a traffic ticket and there was this big pile of shit right in the middle of the sidewalk! I knew it wasn't a dog. David Smooke: The sidewalk, right in the middle? Derek Bernard: It just had a nice rich orangish color. You could tell it was fresh and it was just, man. David Smooke: I used to work off the side streets in SOMA, and even down there I just saw people squatting literally between two cars just taking a shit in the alley because it's a side street. Derek Bernard: That's where I would go to. David Smooke: Yeah I guess. We could also ... iTunes, so online music sales is potentially. I don't know. I mean you want to give a lot away. Derek Bernard: Revenue stream. David Smooke: Another site that's growing, Patreon is good. They get people to basically subscribe to someone. You get someone to pay you like $2 a month and they get three videos from you, like whatever you upload kind of deal. It's like you're going to content outlet where it's not quite, it's not public. They are protecting basically content and you can only view it if you're logged in and subscribed. They're growing, there's less one-ways ... It's tough because you have to grow ... It's like you widen it on YouTube, then you go to Patreon to release exclusive content. Derek Bernard: It's like we're finding the online presence more and more, more, more. First it's like YouTube and that's the major platform, but then there are all these other outlets that can show exactly ... but I guess you have to keep up on all that then, right? David Smooke: Yeah, I'm just bringing it up as one business model to go. I don't know if it's the right one. Because, I always lean towards ... You want the largest audience as possible, and then from that audience other things will come that generate your income. Derek Bernard: It's almost like it would be nice if there were a need for that before you did it. David Smooke: Yes. Derek Bernard: As opposed to doing it and then … David Smooke: Yes, so then the natural order I think would be you grow a presence and then you open the channel that's paid. Derek Bernard: Yeah I guess that makes sense. Otherwise why would anyone pay for it? David Smooke: Yeah, then you would have to convince people to pay for something that they don't know what it is. Derek Bernard: Who wants to convince anybody anyway? It's like, just listen if you want to listen. David Smooke: But, what are you listening to? I don't know, it's paid. Derek Bernard: I paid a dollar for it so ... David Smooke: Which way are we going here? How do you say this street? No-ree-guh? Derek Bernard: Nor-ee-ay-guh. David Smooke: Nor-ee-ay-guh? Derek Bernard: Noreaga. Did you get all that? David Smooke: What challenges, what else ... What other revenue streams are there actually? I'm still kind of ... I mean there's ads on videos, there's shows, there's events, private parties would be part of events, merchandise. Derek Bernard: I like the [crosstalk 00:09:43] party idea. I also like the house party idea. David Smooke: Oh shit. I just broke my glasses. This is like a $10 ... oh look I'm just going to ... I lost a screw. Derek Bernard: Toast. David Smooke: Yeah, broke my shades. I think they were ten bucks. [inaudible 00:09:59] Yeah they were one of those, [inaudible 00:10:01] Yeah I guess. Still kind of sucks. Derek Bernard: Right? Now you're sunglassless for the next. David Smooke: Yeah I think I can put a little screw in there and connect this frame again. Is this it? Okay cool. All right well thanks for walking with me. Any … Derek Bernard: Should we resume when we walk back? David Smooke: We could, yeah. All right, I'll hit pause. _________________________________________________ Live. Derek Bernard: (singing) Rollin down the streets smokin indo, sippin on gin and juice. David Smooke: (singing) Laid back. Derek Bernard: (singing) With my mind on my money and my money on my mind. David Smooke: Welcome back to part two. David Walks. Today, Derek's had some gigs and some cool places and I was just wondering how do you get your first couple of gigs? Derek Bernard: I would say the very first step is to get some sound recorded of what you sound like and put it up on a website, so you can send them somewhere. Facebook, Reverbnation, Bandzoogle is what I use to create my website. Then send some clubs an email and say you'd like to get on. David Smooke: Do you just go, like the places you want to play? How often do you think they respond? Derek Bernard: The challenge with that approach is that it's just you, right? It's just your band, and you're just saying, "Hey I want to get on a bill." Nowadays it seems like the people at the clubs like it when you approach them with an entire bill for the night. Like three separate bands. David Smooke: Oh wow, so they want you to do like the packaging together, finding everyone else, like getting the audience of three different bands? Derek Bernard: That'll get you gigs. David Smooke: Yeah, so that's an interesting idea. Maybe how would we start? We've create this little network of all the local bands. Derek Bernard: Get around and start to interact with people, go to open mics and see who you like and … David Smooke: Yeah and who you can actually play with and get along with and organize with. Derek Bernard: All of that stuff I would either say secondary. David Smooke: Secondary, you just got to find other people who got the talent? Derek Bernard: As long as they're not ... well yeah that's huge. As long as you put together a really good show, it seems like that's a pretty important. David Smooke: Things will take care of themselves. You know, people will show up, not show up. Derek Bernard: Generally if you're just starting out, it's probably not refined very much yet. It takes maybe a year or two to really get something like ... practice all the time. David Smooke: It's so '90's on the street. That's cool. Derek Bernard: Yeah this guy was setting up this morning when I was out here. David Smooke: Do you think? Oh yeah? Little pop-up shop or are they RVCA? [crosstalk 00:12:29]. Maybe one technique would be whenever you send your email, then you have two other people send the person the same email. Like, "I really wish 'X' would play at your club." Derek Bernard: That way you don't [crosstalk 00:12:49]. You already did all the legwork though to get those people to coordinate, to get those people to send those emails out though. David Smooke: Yeah, I'm just saying, so you send them a message and if they get followed up with like four people requesting the band there. Derek Bernard: Oh! David Smooke: You know what I mean? You send to the manager or whoever. Derek Bernard: [I hope that work 00:13:07] David Smooke: I think it could work. Derek Bernard: I could see that. David Smooke: Every time you want a new gig just follow up with this little crew and every day they just send them, one a day, five at once, you could try it out. Derek Bernard: Because an important piece of it is head count. [Crosstalk 00:13:21] David Smooke: You're showing an initial headcount and your also just showing an excitement. I'm sure that most people that reach out to them for music don't get five emails that follow up from five different people. Derek Bernard: Right, probably not. The timing on that would be good. Because the challenge I find, especially when you're first starting out is, if you're trying to put a bill together, you have to find the headlining act that's willing to headline on the specific night and all that stuff. If you could get added on to a bill I think that would help. David Smooke: Yeah, then they would do all the work. Derek Bernard: It would also help you with ... I think build an audience. Because I think they put you in hopefully with bands that are similar sounding to you. David Smooke: It's really a top-down thing, where the headliner drives things. Derek Bernard: Yeah, oh for sure. Usually the headliner is the one organizing the show, unless you are trying to book a headliner of some kind, in which case I don’t know. David Smooke: Then if you do all that work and book a headliner, you played with a better band. Like is that, you're part of a better show? Like, part of the motivation, if you're not the headliner, then it's like you're moving. Derek Bernard: It ups the prestige. Until you get more exposure too to their fan base which hopefully will have similar musical sentiments as your band. David Smooke: Where is the best place to play in the city? Derek Bernard: That's a good question. David Smooke: Then follow-up question, where was your favorite show in the city that you played? Derek Bernard: Brick + Mortar was a pretty great show. I like that one a lot. The Red Devil before it closed was pretty good. Café de Norde before it closed was pretty good. David Smooke: What's with everything closing? You old? Derek Bernard: Yeah, it must be it. Damn it! The Elbow Room is closing down. I don't know, it's all this gentrification, but maybe that's beside the point. David Smooke: That would bring us down a new topic. Oh I'm not ready for that today. Derek Bernard: There do seem to be people moving in and pushing out venues. But, the venues are probably also aren't making that much money. It seems like the market out there is not so thriving, in a way, for live music, in San Francisco anyway. I don't know why that is but … David Smooke: I want to do, I definitely want to do a first marketing event with live music. Someone completely advised me against this, but … Derek Bernard: Why? What was their rationale? David Smooke: Basically one time he hired a jazz band, that was a good group, decent payout, and they were too loud for the area, and the people weren't ready, and everyone basically funneled together or grouped together in the room that didn't have the jazz band. It created this awful environment where the music was too loud and didn't quite fit and everyone went away from it was supposed to be your biggest asset. Part of what's adding to this, essentially happy hour, drinking type of event. Derek Bernard: But it was too much. It was too much volume? Is that … David Smooke: The volume, and also, he was for whatever reason, the fit, the people didn't like it and they went to the other room. He was a little traumatized. Derek Bernard: Yeah that would be humiliating. David Smooke: He's done a ton of events so it was like ... He may be right on this one, because he says it always just messes up the noise, the balance. If you do a panel or a corporate talk of some kind, and then the music, or music before ... I don't know. He was against it, but I want to try it out just to see because I think it would be super fun. Because if there was music playing anyway, why not make it real live music? Derek Bernard: Somehow you would have to strive for a delicate balance between background music and performance. David Smooke: The other way is that it's after. It's like, "Hey we have this talk, if you're into it you get there early, if you're into the subject matter. If not, you can still kick it, it's basically a happy hour and a live band after. You split it more like … Derek Bernard: That way people could leave if they wanted to. David Smooke: Yeah exactly, and the people that are into it now get to celebrate and have a drink. Derek Bernard: If you could somehow mix the ... I don't know if that would work, but mix some of the people there would be some corporate people and some regular people. Maybe that would help. David Smooke: Yeah, I like that divide of the world, there's some corporate people and then there's some regulars. Derek Bernard: Civies we'll call them. David Smooke: I was thinking the event would be a lot of people I work with, like, "Oh what does it take to be a start-up founder?" Here are four start-up founders I work with. Hang out here, learn from these guys, then grab some music. Derek Bernard: A lot of them are going to be young too right? Music hasn't left their life. David Smooke: Part of what I want to do is grow this massive network of marketers. There's people I can work with on projects and people I can just learn from and they can learn from me, and people that are just doing what I'm doing. That's also part of the appeal. You host an event, you're basically putting all this effort to drive in people you want to do business with. Derek Bernard: Somehow you could tie together the music community, it seems like that might be interesting. Because, there's a pretty big music community out here, with some pretty talented hosts. David Smooke: I've heard it's some smaller groups, but the community doesn't seem that united. I also don't know it well enough. Derek Bernard: I don't know about united, but I do know it exists. There are a bunch of different little groups like [inaudible 00:18:45] community is one of them. Sort of a couple others, I don't have them at the top of my brain, but somehow tying all these hubs together might be an interesting way to bring together music with whatever other functions might come up. That might demand it. David Smooke: Like a musical incubator. Derek Bernard: Yeah there was this one gig that my housemate did, Kerry, it was for a marijuana app, because he's in a reggae band, it's more like Hawaiian reggae, but they had this whole line-up of reggae bands throughout the whole day. They had a nice turnout, people came out to check out the app and also check out the music and there was a nice balance. David Smooke: That's a good idea. I would like to go to something like that. That just sounds cool. It's more like ... it's a pick and choose you know? Offer, if you're into this subject, there's a time of day that will be good for you. If you're into this subject and it's just a panel, you may skip it. If you're into this subject and it's just a happy hour, you may skip it. But by putting them ... I think it's good for... if you're going to put in the time to throw an event, or put together a show, you want to ... It's better if you get a big show, a longer ... it's a lot less work to get a panel than to get a whole do panel and happy hour, but that more work at once I think pays off, because what am I going to two little shows or two little events? No, I'd rather have one big event. Derek Bernard: Bring all the people you need and [crosstalk 00:22:28] or something like that? David Smooke: Part of it is getting to those milestones. The comparison here, it's if you're a big marketing firm you have had one awesome event. If you're a good band, you have played with a certain level of people, or certain venue, you know? You have had a show that had 3,000 people or whatever, maybe not quite numbers, but it's like ... as opposed ... Early in a business, I think it's better to put a little more eggs into one, make a splash with a big one than go for two small ones. Derek Bernard: There's a higher risk involved in that [crosstalk 00:21:11] David Smooke: I don't know if I'm going to think the same way tomorrow. Derek Bernard: Okay fair enough. David Smooke: But right now I kind of … Derek Bernard: In the moment. David Smooke: Yeah, I like that approach. Just because events are already a pain in the ass. If you're going to have to do it, you may as well do it big once and less often. Derek Bernard: One big [crosstalk 00:21:26] David Smooke: Part of it is a selfish motivation of how I want to do business or how I know I behave. Derek Bernard: If you did, I don't know if you're going to be into doing events or whatever, but if you could segment the different businesses, or maybe categories in business you could do them more frequently and still get higher turnouts and still have more people coming and [crosstalk 00:21:49] networking. That way you could do it every month or something like that. Because, you have three different distinctive things, I don't even know if the market is split that way. David Smooke: All right. Well we went pretty deep on that one. Derek Bernard: Yeah we did. David Smooke: We just walked like a mile. All right so we're walking by Ocean Beach. Derek Bernard: Me met up on Rivera. David Smooke: Yeah, not too much going on today, just wanting to finish your music video we recorded last week, did some editing. *Update: Here is the music video, "Cry Baby Cry Beatles Cover" Derek Bernard: Played a little ukulele. David Smooke: Yeah, played a little ukulele and I guess that's pretty much all for today. Any … Derek Bernard: Productive day. David Smooke: Yeah, pretty productive. Derek Bernard: Final remarks? David Smooke: Yeah final remarks. Do you have a sign off line? Derek Bernard: No. Is that required? David Smooke: I don't know. Derek Bernard: I'll have to come up with one. David Smooke: Well what do you say at the end of a show? Derek Bernard: Thanks for coming out, it's lovely to see everybody. David Smooke: Cool, thanks for listening.

Haberdasher Puzzle: The 4 Pieces of Circles, Squares and Music  

Haberdasher Puzzle: The 4 Pieces of Circles, Squares and Music


David: What’s the Haberdasher Puzzle?


Derek: It’s basically taking 4 pieces of a geometric shape and rearranging it from a triangle into a square. The same pieces that make a triangle can also make a square. You can cut an equilateral triangle in 4 pieces that can be rearranged to make a square.



David: What’s Haberdasher mean?

Derek: Shapes, cuts, refinement, old school, harmony and music. Did you mean the actual definition?


David: I meant what is it. How does it relate to music?

Derek:  The flow of music in performance is consistent with the flow of the Haberdasher’s puzzle. The idea that all of the pieces would hinge, or connect with each other without breaking the flow during rearrangement. Like performance. The problem itself would have had to have been deeply considered before a conclusion could be drawn; I like that.  


David: What is it about 3 vs 4?

Derek:  1,2,3,






David: Whatcha mean?

Derek: ¾ is in the feel of the waltz. Most pop music is in 4/4. ¾ is a bit more rare in the pop world, but equally satisfying.


David: There’s also an odds and evens quality to 3 vs. 4.

Derek: All bases covered. And it’s a four piece band: Samuel Hertig, Bass. David Walsh, Cajon and Percussion. michael michael, Percussion/Soundscape. Me, Guitar and Vocals.


David: Do you remember the moment you picked Haberdasher?

Derek:  I don’t. I remember the timeframe, but I don’t remember the exact moment.


David: What was the timeframe?

Derek: My friend Eric and I formed a duo shortly after I moved to San Francisco, and we worked together for a few months, wrote some songs, played a show at El Rio in SF in The Mission District, and then amicably, by way of a gentlemanly handshake equipped with a slight, respectful nod, went our separate ways.


The experience of moving from start to finish through a project had a profound effect on me, and I immediately began thinking in my own direction. From there the word haberdasher popped into my head, and I liked the word (I’m into words. Bailiwick.).


David: What is it about the word?

Derek: It had a vintage feel. It drew out of me an association to the 1920’s for some reason, and I’ve always had an affinity for the 20’s, the odd, old timey words (ballyhoo!), the tense harmonies, the bounce of celebratory music, ragtime. So I was transported, not to a particular time and place, but to a kind of nostalgic sentiment. I like what it could mean in terms of lives lived and interactions had as people rolled in and out of some one location discussing the events of the day, life’s philosophies, life’s priorities, all while tailoring up, as it were, and “everyone” seemed to have worn a suit back then, so a Haberdasher was a busy individual.    


Besides, it just rolls off the tongue, using the “B” as the windup, and the “D” as the launching point. HABERDASHER (link to instagram of vine of derek saying the word). Singular. Not plural. Not as a means of describing multiple participants. Just Haberdasher. It’s evocative to me. As it exists that way, the idea merges with the sentiment, and connotes this notion of singularity. Just another bubble of reality.


David is the founder of ArtMap Inc. and Derek is lead vocalist of Haberdasher.


"Keep It Simple," He Says 

Man, life; the very stillness of it boggles the mind. And even when I think I have it all figured out (which I never actually say out loud anymore, lest the hammer fall), I find another nuance that's news to my perception, causing my nasal area to seize up, and my forehead to clog with a fear for the light of the moment that's akin to claptastrophy. Since when is it I learned to second-guess myself? Since when is it I learned to set aside the business of living for the cajolement of a sense pleasure, the appeasement of a mentality long since established by a world around me that was merely appeasing its mentality? Sure you could say I had my own role to play in accepting what the world had to offer, proceeding to hit the pleasure button over and over again, and finding the button for pain as far away from me as possible.

All I can say is that everyday I stare, increasingly in awe, at the grandeur of my delusion. The little intricacies of a story to unfold. A mind filled, brimming with untold miserable delights that slaver, with naught but regularity for a second-hand. And where else can I be but right where I am regardless of what it is I take in by these senses? The world that surrounds me is not what I thought it was. Somehow I've surrounded it, and will break windows and toss torches if I don't cooperate and release my sole hostage. It's not what you tell me it is. It's not what I tell myself it is. It really only seems to be what it is. A world that changes its skin more times than the topmost salesman (is it the world that changes, or my point of view? who's the salesman here anyway?!). Without the assessments of science (more of a religion than Christ could ever lay claim to), without the rigid data of a rigorous guess and check analysis, and without the unanimous decision to call a toad by any other name. Is that egotistical of us as "humanity"'s underbelly (I'm sure it's egotistical of me to say it, right?)? Is this really just another dark age in disguise?

Who is called to bear to for the foibles of a derelict race of mammals that build a tower daily and tear it down again before reaching the heavens for fear that we deem ourselves worthy? We're always watching everyone else for their misdeeds, misconducts, misfortunes, misdirections, misunderstood hackneys, mistletoes, exposed camels toes and leftover genitalia, loaded social norms, and subtle language undertones motivated by cowardly righteousness ("oh, not me!" you proclaim...well, so). We play by a system of checks and balances whereby we have appointed ourselves wards of those poor people who just so happen to be nearby, or, within shouting distance, within earshot, or eyesight, arms reach, or a hair's breadth, three feet out, or nine feet to the hole and a clear lane to drive.

We monitor the actions of our neighbors just so we can feel, when we've caught the red hand pilfering cookies, a little bit more righteous in our search for a cookie jar to pilfer from, our hand clothed in a fresh coat of paint. At least the cookie monster had no shame. He always said, "Fuck it, I'm having me some cookies by the fistful." He didn't judge or disdain, justify or complain about another's actions ordained by his wanton desire. He didn't judge anybody but himself.

So, who's to say? Sesame Street? Apparently, and why not? It'd be better than lifting our eyes to their lord and ladyships, us, wouldn't it? Right down to the black gown and white wig, the gallant gavel and tasty fig of a justice we preach but never follow, only to wallow in our own selves, the strife of another life after life after life.

Man, life.


We don’t see emptiness it seems, we only see what is there (provided by emptiness). I asked myself this morning, what is it we learn at a very young age when taught in which direction to look and what to focus on? As I see it, the focus, spatially, was pretty much always on what was there physically (there implying that there’s a here from which to see) – possibly as a means of survival – but to focus only on a physical “there”, completely negates the vastness of what isn’t there in physical form.

If I wonder long enough on what isn’t there physically, but what is there as a result of physicality, I see only sky, or, air. It’s a “something” to be sure, but relative to what we’ve been taught to focus on as being “there” (physical form) a “nothing” is implied, emptiness. Emptiness not nihilistically speaking, but emptiness as a “something” made knowable/perceivable by the physical.

If I ponder longer still on the nature of the space in which the physical resides, I realize that the substance “I’m” made of is of this same material of residence and naturally implies emptiness by way of existence, and so the emptiness encroaches upon me, into a space originally conceived of (by me) as me.

And so I ask myself, how close does the emptiness come? Where do the borders of “me” begin to hold this emptiness at bay? Because if no borders held this emptiness at bay, then that would make this “me”, what I conceive of as me, empty (a terrifying thought to something located somewhere within the vicinity of “me”). But if emptiness is implied by the physicality of my being “here”, then it must be the lines of this “me” that creates the surrounding space. But even still there seems to be something that permeates both the form and the not-form – some kind of über emptiness that implies both of these, or rather, allows the form and the not-form to be seen or perceived, just as a drawing (space implied by lines to form a recognizable image) is only made possible by the piece of paper.

Then I further inquire: if the form of “me” implying the not-form around “me” is only “there” by the grace of the piece of paper, then, as the emptiness further encroaches, past borders that don’t really exist, what am I? As the piece of paper permeates in its entirety, then space implied reaches inwardly as far as it goes, and if “I” continue a retreat from this advancing space I eventually become a pinpoint of definition in the general locale of this “me” until everything is suffuse with what, the piece of paper? If everything is suffuse with the piece of paper, and yet I’m still here, then what the hell am I?

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