You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘writers’ category.

waterfall

Photo by Nick    View to a Thrill    Mt. Charleston

I sit and write as if the time is short
I take the time to listen to the waterfall’s echoes
Knowing that the water will cease for a dry summer
I race against that last drop
To capture its wisdom before it is absorbed into the earth
It enables my path to grounding the electric
to a place where it all began
to where I will go
to make the planet green
you gotta let go
you know……

Advertisements

 

 

vhs

The Fighting Poultry Clan…….

 
 
 

I was thinking about our old high school mascot, a male chicken, and the above image the basis for the name “The Poultry Clan” which was changed to the “The Fighting Clan” after I graduated and people call it “The Clan” for short. The word Clan actually means children in Gaelic. Now back then, no one really fixated on that moniker, as racist as it sounds, because Vineland, New Jersey was the center of the egg business.  The “Egg Auction Building” was a huge edifice on Delsea Drive and eggs were the town’s main export along with farm vegetables for many years.  I used to think about what impression an opposing football team might have taking on a team with a mere male bird of fowl for a mascot, but then Brison Manor (http://www.databasefootball.com/players/playerpage.htm?ilkid=MANORBRI01) came from a neighboring town of Bridgeton, and was a starter for the Denver Broncos for 8 years of a 10 year NFL career, and I faced him head to head, me being the smallest guy on the line.  We won that game, I rest my case.  My mind then began to wander to some memories of high school days and I decided to share a few chuckles and some serious thoughts as well. 

Way back in my freshman year I decided that I needed to take a typing class, never realizing how one day it would allow me to do such incredible things with a blank sheet of paper, to create universes of imagination.  My teacher at that time was very strict but also very pretty and young compared to my youthful age of 13.  I started in Kindergarten at age 4 as my birthday was right on the edge of allowability for that year, and so most everyone I knew was older than myself with a few exceptions.

Our recently married, pretty disciplinarian instructor in her twenties would usually wear mini-skirts and for some strange reason sit right next to me on my desk where our books and papers would normally be for typing exercises, and myself at that time having the Vulcan Dr. Spock’s hormonal equivalent levels of “Pon Farr” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amok_Time), it was impossible not to look at her legs  as they were inches from my eye level.  She was the ultimate S & M Queen in retrospect, but damn I learned how to type without looking at the keys!

Then my mind drifted forward to another cougarish teacher of English.  She was divorced, a hottie, and had that same type of personality as my typing instructor, only she was a bit mean and now I realize that was an extension of her defensiveness because ever male teacher in that high school must have hit on her.  I saw her many years later as she happened to be a cousin of one of my lifelong friends (I never knew that information at the time in high school) and I attended his summer party family reunion bash.  I saw her and I knew who she was instantly, but she had no idea who I was.  She had filled out from the slender figure of a twenty-something and was now middle-aged but still very attractive.  I bided my time and then confronted her.  It went something like this:

Me: “You don’t remember me do you?”

Her: “I can’t say that I do.”

Me: “I was in your English class my name is Nick Oliva and I have an old grudge to air out with you.”

Her: (Looking shocked and surprised) “Ah, okay let’s hear it.”

Me: “Well, we had to do a report on the Tale of Two Cities and you made us stand in front of the class and orally give that report, and you required us to speak for twenty minutes, which I thought was insane and the cause for many of the reports to be quite boring to say the least.”

Her: “Well, that’s it? That’s your beef?”

Me: “No, this is. When I did my report I reasoned that Madame LaFarge was NOT the evil person portrayed in the novel by Charles Dickens.  She was seeking revenge against the Evrèmondes, for the crimes a prior generation of the Evrèmonde family had committed and that included the deaths of her sister, father, and brother.  She was also a central figure in the support of the French Revolution.  My point was that if your family had atrocities committed against them and you lost your sister, father, and brother, you too would be seeking the same blood lusting revenge for their deaths and how could she be portrayed so evilly if she was a part of the French Revolution that changed the world?”

Her: “Well, that certainly was a good point, what did I say to that?”

Me: “You said, very interesting but it was only half the time you were supposed to speak” and I said to you, “well it was twice as good as any normal book report and you got pissed off.”

Her: “And how did I grade you?”

Me: “You grudgingly gave me a B.”

Her: “At least you got that!”

She then walked away and purposefully avoided me for the rest of the party.

The last story for this blog is a woman named Zoe Pappas.  Mrs. Pappas along with another English teacher Emily Morin) played a huge role in helping me to believe in myself and instilled a sense that my thought processes, though very unconforming, were on the right path.

It was my senior year and my Civics/History teacher, Mrs. Pappas, had an FBI agent come in (this was the fall of 1970) and explain what the FBI did and the history of the organization.  This was probably an attempt at “educating” young students that the FBI was their friend and to counteract their becoming reputation as a “police state” enforcement agency.  At that time the FBI was collecting names of political anti-Nixon citizens for a “blacklist” to try and deport unwanted contemporary thinkers. (Note: In 1972 the FBI attempted to force the deportation of “radical” John Lennon)  I let him drone on and on and then after he wasted 30 minutes of a 45 minute class, he asked if there were any questions.  Big mistake…..I raised my hand and asked, “So why does the FBI keep a list of people who are considered activists and free thinkers, and try to arrest and deport them?  You could hear a pin drop, and see students jaws drop along with the silence.  I thought I really went too far and that I was going to hear holy hell from Mrs. Pappas after he left.  The agent tried to avoid this issue with bullshit about their charter and investigative techniques and never did answer the question, as I expected.  He left and Mrs. Pappas came back to the front of her desk.  I really thought I was going to the principal’s office for this one, not that I cared at that point.  Mrs. Pappas began to speak of the importance of understanding how our government works and how we must be aware of what it does and then raised her arm and pointed her finger at me. I froze completely.  She then said “and Nick, your question was the best one I’ve heard anyone ask. ”

Well, thanks to teachers like her and a few others that encouraged my “twisted thought process” I gained the confidence to “be one traveler “ who took the other road, the long Dharma road that never ends, and now I understand the real difference a teacher with a free mind can make.

richard-stockton-state-college

This was originally a letter to my college mentor, Dr. Leonard Klein, an incredible pianist, composer, and teacher who studied with the finest people ever known.  He paid homage to Darius Milhaud, a great composer by naming his son after him.  He taught at Mills College outside San Francisco that boasts alumni such as Dave Brubeck, Phil Lesh, Frankie Mann, Miya Masaoka, Rebeca Mauléon, Steve Reich, and many others.  At the time I had the absurd notion that somehow some lower middle-class cocky teenager with no previous musical experience (I was a drummer at least), that couldn’t read music, was not in “Band” in high school and was merely a beginning, self-taught guitarist that knew how to play along with the records of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, The Allman Brothers, The Grateful Dead, and Dave Mason; who’s inert passion made me have the cajones to think I could actually walk into a Seminar II class in the winter (they had a trimester system), after not attending the Seminar I class………Such audacious behavior changed my life forever and taught me that anyone can do anything, if they commit themselves passionately to doing it.  I reprint this as I think it contains a very positive message for the young, the confused, and those who do not know who I am, and perhaps would like to know from whence I came.  At the least it makes me teary-eyed reading it. Just for that reason alone I think it has some value.

Years later in 1994 when I first wrote what ended up being just a fair draft for my novel “Only Moments” (published in 2007) he was one of the first to read it, and the high praise he gave me, was as though he was my father, and it inspired me even more to move forward – as did his teaching twenty years earlier.

Stockton State College in New Jersey was founded in 1971 and I attended the very first classes in a hotel at the somewhat sleazy Mayflower Hotel (since torn  down for a casino) on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. We were known as the Mayflower Pilgrims. A construction strike had delayed the actual campus opening in the middle of the Pine Barrens that I knew as my mother’s sisters lived close by.  The lake and backroads where it was built were the same areas I had rode a bicycle years earlier when my mother was giving birth to my two younger brothers and I stood at my aunt’s houses, being too young to be at home alone with a father working two jobs.

There were over 1000 professors that applied for a mere 90 teaching jobs.  Unemployment was much higher than now, the stagflation had started and money was tight. Stockton hired the cream of the crop. the best minds from the most forward-thinking colleges in the nation (Antioch, Berkeley, UCLA, etc.) and I was lucky enough to be there and be taught by some of them.

You can imagine a 17 year-old first out-of-the-house experience at a hotel-converted state college with a hard core red light district on one side, and the transgender/transvestite/gay district on the other with “Feeleys Bar” in the middle (Now the Irish Pub).  Stockton State College was voted the #1 party school in the nation for that and a few years after.  I dropped out after the first semester and came back in the winter of 1974 after I realized that Child Psychology was not going to work for me, and partying like a fool didn’t require one to pay college tuition. I graduated in the Spring of 1977 with a degree in Musical Composition.

Passion……..the miracles it can perform when one mixes it with a little discipline.

Here it is and forgive me Leonard if you have any objection.

Dearest Leonard,

Last night I went to see the Las Vegas Philharmonic Orchestra because I had to….
Here’s the program:
Masterworks III
All-Tchaikovsky Concert

Symphony No. 6, “Pathetique”
Roccoco Variations
Nocturne for Cello and Orchestra
Romeo and Juliet
Overture to Fantasy
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Guest Artist: Zuill Bailey, cello

It was magnificent and I thought of you, and how much you really taught me. I thought of Trudy Weaver and how she helped me learn how put notes to paper. The music flowed and I listened to the permutations, the note for note genius, the pianissimo and triple forte –  the 5/4 time signature of the waltz-like second movement of ‘Pathetique’ – all of those things that I learned – but could not do in 1974, as I begged you on my knees to allow me to be taught and then fought with valor to learn, with every drop of my own human passion, intellect, determination, and ability would allow. 
I knew that I could never have been a concert instrumentalist, a great musician-as when I met you I knew nothing about music other knowing I had a good ear.  I don’t know if you remember but I graduated in 2.5 years with a 4 year degree with honors in Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities and had 50% more Music Program credits than I needed to graduate AND worked full time the last year with the Atlantic City Press as a dispatch driver while managing triple overloads……..not to mention that I had no money, no parental financial support and had to pay my own way – all to be honored by being taught by the pedigree of your lineage from Nadia to Darius – that few understand and know, but for those who are classically trained.  I know that I may have not made you proud for my musical endeavors, but know that you enlightened a young man, now in middle age and allowed me the enrichment of life itself and provided much happiness, regardless of the genre of music I’ve been associated with during my life. 
I truly wish I could have been your Tchaikovsky, but if not for you and my fight to conquer ignorance I would have never studied the masters of photography, the anthropological and religious aspect of human existence by the genius of Joel Rubenstein, the connections of Stan Leavitt and the Navaho tribe, the poetry of Steven Dunn, electronic and Balinese music, and most importantly –  the ability to interact with the finest minds of the world in a Pine Barrens dream that I rowed my boat through so quickly, that I wish I had stayed longer. 
And lastly while I listened to Pyotr Ilyich , I was astounded at how much I’ve not forgotten through all these years, and as I sat there dissecting every note and nuance, the tears fell uncontrollably from my eyes in happiness for what I was allowed to be given…the long length of time gone by forever, but lessons not forgotten…and now many years later I am reminded once again of being honored and humbled by a man now in his 80’s who shall never know how much he has done for a once young, stubborn but passionate kid, who was cocky enough to “dare” to tackle the seemingly impossible and improbable and change the course of his life…………a life that would be filled with dreams but thankfully given the knowledge to make some of those dreams a reality.  For that I can never repay you.  Thank you is not enough, the world is not enough to show my gratitude to you and to a young student named Trudy who’s unselfishness helped me tremendously so I could prove to you I could do it and try to make you proud of how far I had come.  I have lived my life by so many of your words and disciplines.  It is hard not to do the right things and expect it of others………those who are hard workers and true disciples of knowledge are so far and few between that life does become frustrating and at times mentally unbearable………hence the art that flows from the soul to take that sorrow and build bridges to understanding through the humanities.  I am so grateful for all of this and for you.
love to you,
nick

 

This is dedicated to all of my nieces and nephews.  The road is long and always leads to another one.

When I was 5 years-old I was in first grade and fully energized by those of my age together in the playground where a hierarchy of order was made plain by class, color, and wealth.  It was the beginning of abuse by bullies who were stronger and lean compared my to husky size from my mother never allowing anyone leaving the table unless all the food was eaten, and she cooked for an army.  I learned that mass hysteria was easily accomplished on the playground. I watched a mentally retarded brother manipulate my adult parents with ease.  I learn the subtle art of psychology without even realizing it. There were three ‘Nicks’ within two houses next to each other.  We used to laugh when someone called and all of us answered.  Big Nick used to take us fishing.  My best friend Little Nick’s father, Big Nick’s daughter’s husband, died in a boating accident and it was kept from me.  I couldn’t understand the crying and sadness around me.

When I was 10 years-old I was beaten many times in the school yard and to and from home. My hormones kicked in early and I began to lift weights and body build.  A short time later those same bullies, who were expelled from the school system for beating me, wouldn’t come near me.  A few years later in Catholic school the pastor sexually abused me and many others, a long buried event that only came up when I was writing a novel and I used that experience when writing the key element of the main female character.  As an altar boy, I learned that praying was not a substitute for action to solve my problems.  I had to act or allow myself to become merely fodder for those who were sadistically stronger.  I learned to question all authority be it religious or otherwise. I watched as my intransigent brother was put into an institution for threatening my two infant brothers.  I watched as my mother blamed my father for it.  I grew up quickly because of their rift caused by pure manipulation.  I learned to hide fear well.

When I was 15 years-old I was a high school starter in football as a center, odd as I was the smallest guy on the team, and then attempted wrestling due to a coach’s pressure.  I hated it, and got out by exaggerating an injury.  I had become a bonafide athlete. I threw discus and ran track, and girls now became an attractive force of nature, but I knew there was danger in paradise.  I learned how to play drums.  I learned that although I had a far superior education in Catholic school, emotionally there was a vacuum inside.  I sought acceptance and allowed myself to be used for that purpose.  I felt like the poor boy at grand banquet and didn’t deserve to be there.  I learned that I had to begin an ongoing process, to rely on me, to love myself before I could go further.  I learned how hard that really was.  Big Nick passed away as did two of my father’s brother’s and I was in a state of denial for all of them.

When I was 20 years-old I drove a forklift, made a bunch of money, went to Jamaica by myself, didn’t come back when I supposed to and was fired by Scott Paper.  I then went back to college after dropping out after the first semester with the college being on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City due to a construction strike, and earned a degree in music two and a half years later. I gained strength from adversity.  I learned how to really play the guitar and piano.  I came from knowing nothing about music to graduating in Who’s Who in American Colleges in a very short time.  The immersion of myself into knowledge and technology at that time made it the most incredible part of my life.  I learned that I possessed incredible passion and  it made me go for the seemingly impossible as I truly began to believe in the spirituality of a force within me.  I studied the subject of religion voraciously, and cared not about what anyone else thought of me.   I learned I had the power within to do incredible things when I surrendered to that force and allowed the energy to flow through me.  I learned to be vulnerable and to accept failure as a temporary setback to success, and then realized that it was an inevitable part of it. I learned that listening was more important than talking, that being smart was being secure in being smart, without having to prove it or impress anyone else.

When I was 25-years-old and ready for a career after graduation in 1977 the recession and the “gas crisis” made for a harsh time and I shoveled coal at the local utility company and my rental home in the farm area of South Jersey was burglarized and we lost everything that my girlfriend and soon-to-be wife had owned.  We lived in a tent on a friend’s property for the summer.  My favorite Uncle was able to secure for us an old chauffeur’s quarters behind a former mansion that was now being used as an American Legion Hall for $90 a month in Pleasantville, N.J.  We began to play music in the clubs in and around Atlantic City.  I enjoyed the night life and playing great music for appreciative audiences the experience was soul satisfying but paid comparatively little.  I learned not to depend on anyone but myself in all matters and that certain old friends were best left as such when they become toxic.  I realized that the pain I went through as a child now made me better able to handle the bitter parts of life that I could not change.

When I was 30 years-old I was now working for a casino as an Audio Technician and learned my trade both from books and being on the job.  It was a new age of growth for the area with the incredible expansion of casinos, but like anything, greed begets greed and the corporate structure killed the golden goose. The political and corporate stupidity was constantly at work and I learned that what “appears to be” is much more important that “what is.”  I watched my father die over a few months. I learned to accept my mortality and cried for the time back. I saw what seemed so much time wasted and was bitter, I still hadn’t learned the understanding and enlightenment to be at peace with it.

When I was 35 years-old I was now married for some time and had bought a house in the country with way too much grass to cut and I developed severe allergies that would not be discovered or even checked until 5 years later. It was a time of false bliss, of thinking that possessions and money could bring happiness.  My move to the Taj Mahal nine months early to prepare for the opening was to be the beginning of both “The Donald’s” and my demise in that era of the 90’s.  Chasing corporate dollars was a pastime and not really a career that was fulfilling although it provided just enough comfort to not take a chance and remain safely in the corporate cradle.  I learned that physical pain is never understood by anyone but those who have been through similar pain. Headaches got worse and workloads were excessive.  I learned to have trust in but a few key fellow workers.  I learned that one must proactively terminate a threat before it cannot be overtaken regardless of the personal circumstances.  I learned brutal bloody coldness from the very best management that Donald Trump offered.

When I was 40 years-old my health worsened, the headaches went unabated and my high school football-worn knees could barely handle the constant humidity of the East Coast.  Without work I went into depression and then my left arm went numb from a C-4 nerve impingement that no one figured out for 8 months. By that time my marriage was asunder, I was out of a job and I went to Las Vegas with less than $1000 and searched for work while I knew my wife at the time would not go with me.  My divorce soon followed when Merv Griffin called and needed an Entertainment/Technical Director for his new place in Mesquite, NV.  Of course, greed got to those owners as well and they went belly-up.  It was when I moved to Las Vegas that I was diagnosed as having bubble-boy allergies.  The severe headaches and cysts were keeping me in misery, and I was put on allergy shots for the next six years…..this after two futile operations back East without even testing for allergies and two more operations in Las Vegas.  I worked both at the Sahara showroom AND the Stratosphere (pre-opening) full time and made bank to make up for the losses of those previous years.  I learned that the world when confronted by the truth always looked the other way and offered trite solutions to complex problems because they really didn’t want anyone to know anything that could take their corrupt advantage away.  I learned that living in the now was the most important thing to understand.   My past was unchangeable, the future not here yet.  I began to understand the wisdom of the past leading to what was the “now” and the inevitability of what could only be, based on choices that I made. 

When I was 45 years-old I had been working at the Tropicana in Las Vegas and ran audio for the Folies Bergere and then after 3 years completely revamped and operated their Convention Services Technical Department.  After much turmoil from the past, I would marry a woman that I knew for over 24 years and had her band booked many times in Atlantic City at the Taj Mahal and other places.  The irony was that her band would have played for my first wedding but they weren’t available, but I did book them for my brother’s first wedding……her family was from a place 20 minutes from my New Jersey childhood home….I met her in Las Vegas at the Riviera lounge one night..…so it is indeed a small world.  A few years later an emergency operation was done on my skull to stop infection from reaching my brain and holes were drilled into the area above my eyes to drain the poison, like I needed two holes in my head.  Obviously, it worked. I watched as my mother died at age 67.   I learned that the number of people I could really trust, I could count on one hand, as my father predicted and warned me 30 years earlier.  I never gave up on myself.

When I was 50 years-old I planned a big birthday bash and made out the invitations with a picture of a man in a wheel chair on an IV, and being tended to by a nurse.  Little did I know that I would be in a hospital fighting for my life because of an emergency operation for a spinal infection.  I did in fact flat line and die, but was given a choice to fight and come back to the pain and bittersweet experiences of life, and I took it, despite the painless beauty of that afterworld experience.  The nerve damage disabled me but I took this as just another challenge that life has doled out for me since I was that beaten-up child.  I learned that love does truly conquer all and the love I had for my wife brought me back to the land of the living so that I could tell her and others that I was alright on that “other side.”  Despite the best efforts of the doctors and the hospital, I survived and checked myself out after 5 weeks in intensive care.  I also learned “patient do thy own research” and don’t trust “practitioners.”  Irony upon irony was that I had already written a Near Death Experience in my novel 10 years earlier that paralleled my real experience.  I learned to laugh at death, to embrace life’s preciousness and I allowed the epiphany of living, in its own right, to saturate my every action.  I finally published my novel, I opened a restaurant with my brother, and I took chances without fear of the consequences.  I was finally free to be who I always was and dared to do things without fear and was supported by those who cared without judgment of success or failure.

 

Now I have now turned 55 years-old and I am happy to be alive despite the paralyzation and pain from the surgeries and I know that life itself is all that counts.  There is much more to my life than these highlights, there is no describing the passion, the intense work and rewarding outcomes, the dreams that became reality and the dreams that still live on.  It is the how that is much more important than the what I have done.  There is no great secret to how to live your life other than to survive and make lemonade from lemons.  Those of weak minds do not survive and cannot be stable unless they begin to realize- this is it, this is not a rehearsal.  You get one chance and only one chance, so why care about what anyone else thinks?   I have learned that relying on pure hope without the effort of one’s self is an invitation for disaster, but in the overall human existence, it is the singular most powerful emotion that brings us the strength to face another day, then another, and then another.

Now on the day of the First of November, I’ll raise a glass for my diabetic-ridden ass, to drink to the thoughts on my special birth-day of celebrating my life, my wife, and for my parent’s sacrifice to have brought me into this world, and lastly for the suffering and sacrifice to all those who are brave enough to have offspring in this world of unknowns. To my nieces and nephews and to all others, I leave you with this: Do what makes you happy and in the words of Joseph Campbell, “always follow your bliss.”  Anything less and you have no one else to blame for your misery.  Accept the pain and deal with inevitable and then rejoice for your existence every day.

There are some people that think that writing is easy and effortless until they attempt to link thoughts, ideas, language, prose, and a pulse that is identifiable as “rhythm.” All of these things make up the “voice” of the writing as the words are merely abstracts that can mean different things if the writer is not precise in all aspects of the above. Even when those parameters are followed, creativity is required to make it interesting enough to read, but not too complex to be understood. It all sounds so easy doesn’t it?  Staring at a blank piece of paper and allowing the mind to congeal and spill forth contiguous and conjunctive thoughts that add up to some conclusion and/or moral of the story, if that is the writer’s intent and end result. I have some difficulties with a few people, and some young people in general that think when I present problems I am being negative and they don’t understand or comprehend what I am saying. One young site called Bright Future that I was posting my blogs on -without notice other than a matter-of-fact letter- pulled off over 8 blogs that you can read right here for yourself for supposed “negative attacks and general negative tone.”  The one they left “They Should Have Built It On the F…… Sun” was the most negative one I wrote, calling the last three generations at fault for allowing government to abandon alternative energy sources-that one they left…..go figure…..I cancelled that one myself because that was the best example of a negative tone of any I could see.  Here’s the list of censored blogs, if you can find those negative attacks, let me know:

The Road Taken (The Balance of Life Through Centuries)
A Life or Death Issue (Stem Cell Research book)
Mirror, Mirror, The Spirit is Nearer (The Science of Spirituality)
The Future Use of Digitization-Part I
The Future Use of Digitization-Part II Copyright and Issues
The Future Use of Digitization-Part III, Immortality
What is Really Hip? (Ecology)

“Please, Pay it Forward” was about doing things for people to help those in need. “What is Really Hip” was about the hippie generation initiating the groundswell of the environmental movement that I was a part of.  What was I, negatively attacking myself?  Absurd, and I had to really think this out as to how anyone could be that off-base.

 Another wanted a more “rounded” approach, that translates to “make it pretty for the reader.”  I got pretty depressed about for a day until someone whose opinion I greatly value said some very nice things and encouraged me to write for me and the hell with who wants what. This is what I wrote to her:  

I have become very discouraged and about to give up writing blogs completely, as all the efforts made seem to count up to nothing and I am so tired of fools that just don’t get it, much less those who just don’t care. …….  I was never looking for fame or fortune, just a small group of people that enjoyed what I’ve written to make it worthwhile.  I have tried to connect with a younger audience, but I have found that they think the world is just going to be a beautiful place with no pitfalls or reason to think about anything negative happening.  They haven’t experienced half their ass being chewed off as “life experience” yet, so without me writing it up as a “pretty” piece with truth and justice for all, including dessert-I get cast as writing negatively.  When I try to explain the Ying and Yang are what life is, that all decisions one makes can be cast either good or bad and can also be both “good” or “bad” at the same time if one can even classify what is good or bad- it just is, period.  Inevitably any decision anyone makes will have it’s drawbacks and successes, and they just don’t get it

And my friend commented:  “I don’t think you’re negative. Like I said, I think you are brilliant and I respect you.”  Of course, I could never take a compliment well, not that it didn’t make me feel better, so I wrote her back this short poem that came forth quickly and right from my heart:

Of what use is a song that isn’t heard
the sweet melody of a bird
The joy of painted scenes
where no one has ever been

Of course the artist’s art
comes from their inner heart
but no more grace does one know
when just one sees their show

for in the end, the artist…for all….it is indeed the ego.

Today is a new day, I feel better and who reads this, reads it; and who doesn’t-that is their loss.  My perspective is that of what is and to deny the bad things of this world is  pretending they don’t exist and the “Bright Future” website acts as if the world will all be wonderful with no suffering or struggling. Posing problems and solutions without including touchy- feely “happy” articles is not their forte.  Without questioning from whence the problems came deprives any reader of what is really behind the problem to begin with and is not in my opinion negative but is seeking the truth.  In situations where there are already obvious answers, posing questions is a moot point.  Why bother?  The detriment of denial is that the “solutions” become shallow and without deep reflection as to “why” the situation is what it is from the beginning to the problem’s present position.  A problem is there because decisions were made and the past adds up to what is now.  A solution requires the examination of the past to truthfully and definitively answer those questions without bias.  Good or bad is irrelevant, action and reaction are.

It is the questions that are not answered or not easily answered that pose the complexity of reality and allow stimulation of the human mind.  I am disappointed there are younger people whose intent is good but their focus is so narrow as to not allow the freedom of expression other than “happy” news with simple and/or obvious solutions.  The real mature thought process of science and the arts doesn’t just solve problems, it theorizes and postulates while stimulating others to question as well.  The Ying and Yang, the process of BOTH SIDES of life remain regardless of one’s personal wants and accompanying censorship to force their “un-negative” idea of what really is.  If there is any problem to be solved, someone or something has to be causing that problem.  To deny that, is to deny reality. To call history and events “negative” is childish.  On top of that every deed done, every action taken has both good and bad effects relatively for the human race, -always has, always will.

 While we look at the touchy-feely, the warm and fuzzy, there could be negative and/or evil standing right behind you and your touchy-feely, warm and fuzzy may be the damn cause of it.  You refuse to want to see for the sake of wanting the world the way you want it, sterilized of “bad” things.  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  This theorem just doesn’t apply in physics, but to all in the physical world.  Ignore it at your peril.

There are at least two different schools of thought on this issue.  One has a vested interested in how it all turns out for profitability and survival, and the other wants content and intellectual ideas to become available for a cost close to free as possible, if not completely free.  The parties are on opposite sides of the pendulum and archaic laws that never were designed to handle the “immortality” of human expression in art have been altered slightly to accommodate Disney and the mouse money to be generated in the billions-for years to come.

Rather than argue laws, let’s debate common sense or what’s left of it here in the infancy of interconnectability.  What I’m writing right now as you read this is a culmination of my experience, education, and imagination.  It is by law, owned by me and supposedly not to be redistributed, copied, or reproduced without my permission.  The “Fair Use” doctrine holds that I can be quoted on various media in small part by anyone so long as the proper crediting is maintained -as this being an original “work” as defined by the original copyright statute.  We all know damn well that this will appear on mirror blogs, lifted by automatic reaper spiders, cut and pasted in whole or part by individuals without any such adherence to the above laws.  Why is that?   What is the cause of such “free for all” attitudes and practices?  Look no further than the humans we are.

The day mimeographs (and that strange compelling smell) were doomed by Xerox we opened the gates to a pilfering society.  The ease of theft was promoted by technology, sort of like having automatic glass doors that open on infrared sensors instead of steel security entrances to bank vaults that are 24 inches thick.  Why wouldn’t you just walk in and take a few bundles for your needs?  Ah yes, but then the needs turn into wants that turn into human basic instinct of insatiable greed –as long as there are no repercussions– stuff your pockets full while you can.  Computer technologies are the automatic glass doors, and when was the last time you cut and pasted someone else’s music, photos, research, or content and emailed it to someone else?  How many minutes ago?

I have read articles on giving content away and how it will supposedly promote the sale of books, music, and the like.  I can only react quizzically as I see how well that works with blogs.  No one pays for blogs and all the advertising in the world isn’t going to really compensate you for your effort, although there are some ingenious few that can wring money from Google-but that’s more of a function of commerce merging with know-how than art for art’s sake.  Remember “Net Zero,” the free web portal? That didn’t last long-so much for advertising paying the way for “free content.”  Musical groups have fought on both ends of this philosophy, the most impressive for me being the most magnanimous and “free” bands of all time.  You could tape them in concert, exchange them with your friends pre-internet, and up until last year there was a data base for every concert they ever played in the last 40 years-completely free for your downloading pleasure.  Then something happened.  The surviving members totally disagreed on how to further proceed with this free-wheeling philosophy and shut the access down to free downloading.  No more burning and exchanging live concert experiences-and that had turned into a huge non-profit enterprise.  Fans that just wanted more of their favorite band, were willing to buy new CD’s but there were none after Jerry Garcia died in 1995.  A new production company took over the immense vault of all the shows of the last 40 years and there is no further free downloading of old Grateful Dead concerts.  That prevailing philosophy is what this is all about.  For the first time in our history we can preserve all art that is viable for profit as it’s immortality is somewhat assured by the digitization of it, for hundreds, possibly thousands of years.  It is now possible to have the heirs of this art to pass the profits of these works to their children’s children.  Is this not a good thing?  Which side of this would you stand if you were the person involved in doing the actual work that made all this possible?

The problem is that we are trying to cope with this prolonged copyright protection with such a heavy hand, we are ignoring and doing harm to those who want to use such works to enhance and create new art from the ashes.  For example, I recently tried to get permission for use of music over 35 years old for use in an audio book, as the my book “Only Moments” utilized music of different eras as a thread because the book was about two musicians in love and their lives that spanned over decades.  The Harry Fox Agency in New York is supposed to handle these types of (what we used to call “needle drops” on an actual record) snippets but after months of futile emails to their legal department, they would only defer to the original publishers.  Now, we are talking about a possible audio book that may sell about 100 copies if successful, and to hire someone to flush out 16 different publishers for permission to use 6-10 seconds maximum per song (of songs that are 35 years old) is not only expensive and time consuming, but the attempts were ludicrous.  By the time I had contacted four of publishers there was so much paperwork and confusion, it just wasn’t worth the effort.  So much for a fun project that would have been unique.  Why?  Because the intensive protection prohibits further creativity to use an art form from the past to enhance a new piece of art.  I’m not about to expose myself to a legal liability that could cost me tens of thousands of dollars to be made an example by those corporate lawyers who chose to be vicious.  The prosecuted cases of illegally downloading music cost some children’s parents and grandmothers incredible amounts of money in the recent past.  I would have gladly handed over a small fee for a small project but there is no structure for this type of consideration.  I know this affects people who shoot video for weddings, events, and corporate training, but legally they cannot use any music other than purchasing licensed musical “beds” that are available and generally work only with radio commercials.

I understand the need for making money.  I would like some protection myself, however there are extremes and at some point if we expect to have everything free, then the motivation to create art, to dedicate one’s life to do so-becomes possible for only those who have been financially endowed by rich parents or some such trust fund.  You can have my ear for my art, but I draw the line at my reproductive system.  Of course if it’s already past functioning ability, then what difference would it make to me?  There has to be a legal middle road here, I don’t like driving at night without headlights.

Here’s the latest irony of the issue.  The Chicago Digital Rights Agency recently gave recently deceased multi-media artist Ed  Paschke an award for his acheivements in art.  Take a look at his art.  It is mostly using other’s images and photos that have been altered or inserted into other media.  Is this not copyright infringment?  http://www.edpaschke.com/  And that’s an award from an agency committed to protect copyrights.  It get silly when you start to think about DVD’s being produced in China, fake clothing lines, and all other intellectual property.  Hell, I wear a fake Rolex because if I could afford a real one I’d be afraid that someone would rob me of it.  This one costs $350 and I bought it not because it is a status item, but because I like the way it looks and I don’t have to worry about it being forcibly taken from me.  But whatever reason I have, it doesn’t take the issue away.  The fact that there are positive aspects to copyright infringement doesn’t make it any more illegal by present law.  The enhancement of knowledge is created by building on the past and always has.  The digitization of knowledge may inhibit such knowledge growth by the laws passed by those who stand to profit forever on concepts they essentially stole from someone else as well.  Everything comes from some source, my own writing is heavily influenced by authors of the past and present that I have absorbed into my being.  It is a difficult thing to take control over and be fair, as in fair use.

After all is said, we are talking about business and the business of business is business.  In the words of Milton Friedman the famous United States’ economist, “there is no free lunch,” no matter how good it looks, smells, no matter how bad you want it…..eventually, we all pay the price.  I don’t mind paying a price as long as it doesn’t prohibit the progression of knowledge and expansion of the arts.

Now, if you want to reproduce all or part of this article you have my permission, as if you needed it anyway.

 

Next-Part III- Immortality, the Ultimate Goal

I wanted to share this writer’s plan to get unpublished authors not only published, but to change the entire world.  He’s got a plan and he’s pissed!

http://web.mac.com/edtoolis/TheHumorOfEdToolis/Blog/Entries/2008/4/15_Unpublished_%26_Pissed.html

This is a post from one of my writer’s groups from JD Webb:

This is from Authors Guild written to members about Amazon.com’s recent action:

Last week Amazon announced that it would be requiring that all books that it sells that are produced through on-demand means be printed by BookSurge, their in-house on-demand printer/publisher. Amazon pitched this as a customer service matter, a means for more speedily delivering print-on-demand books and allowing for the bundling of shipments with other items purchased at the same time from Amazon.
It also put a bit of an environmental spin on the move — claiming less transportation fuel is used (this is unlikely, but that’s another story) when all items are shipped directly from Amazon.

We, and many others, think something else is afoot. Ingram Industries’ Lightning Source is currently the dominant printer for on-demand titles, and they appear to be quite efficient at their task. They ship on-demand titles shortly after they are ordered through Amazon directly to the customer. It’s a nice business for Ingram, since they get a percentage of the sales and a printing fee for every on-demand book they ship. Amazon would be foolish not to covet that business.

What’s the rub? Once Amazon owns the supply chain, it has effective control of much of the “long tail” of publishing — the enormous number of titles that sell in low volumes but which, in aggregate, make a lot of money for the aggregator. Since Amazon has a firm grip on the retailing of these books (it’s uneconomic for physical book stores to stock many of these titles), owning the supply chain would allow it to easily increase its profit margins on these books: it need only insist on buying at a deeper discount — or it can choose to charge more for its printing of the books — to increase its profits. Most publishers could do little but grumble and comply.

We suspect this maneuver by Amazon is far more about profit margin than it is about customer service or fossil fuels. The potential big losers (other than Ingram) if Amazon does impose greater discounts on the industry, are authors — since many are paid for on-demand sales based on the publisher’s gross revenues — and publishers.

We’re reviewing the antitrust and other legal implications of Amazon’s bold move. If you have any information on this matter that you think could be helpful to us, please call us at (212) 563-5904 and ask for the legal services department, or send an e-mail to <mailto:staff@authorsguild.

Feel free to post or forward this message in its entirety.

    Any way of life that involves spiritual thinking or should I say metaphysical thought can be termed some sort of a religion if there is a Deity or Deities that are venerated or worshiped.  The root of the word “religion” can be found as the Latin word religare (re: back, and ligare: to bind), so that one is tied to or bound to that ritual that makes up that school of thought. The word relic comes from a similar root as well as it means “from the past.”  Living with different points of view results in different “dogma” whether it is “religious” or a life experience.  Zen is nothingness….to be in a Zen state is to be a state of nothingness.  Buddhism is more of a way of life as no “god” is venerated so I think the word “organized” is the source of confusion of terms that most get tripped up on.  All religions have source points from older religions and all life experiences that constitute a “metaphysical belief” system or disciplined regimen have common threads so to say that sticking with “one” religion or philosophy is a moot point as they are all merged versions of each other in some sense.

     Christianity itself is a composite of older religions and the schism of Martin Luther in the year 1517 along with the not so coincidental widespread use of the Guttenberg printing press, began the different directions of “protesting religion” hence Protestantism.  Catholicism itself is rooted and it’s holidays based on the god with the “halo” or Helios also known as Ra the Egyptian Sun God that was the basis of worship in King Constantine’s Empire in 312 AD when the Holy Roman Catholic Church merged with the Paganism of Constantine to reform the entire European Empire.  Although howls of protest continue on to this day from theologians entrenched in Catholicism, ancient Mithraism was an influence as well and much of the old legends coincide with many of the precepts of Christianity.  Acceptance of new religions required morphing of past rituals in order for any new religion to prosper and this is precisely how Catholicism did spread with little resistance other than the Jewish order that knew Judaism was the basis from whence the schism developed in the first place.  Until persecutions began after overzealous fanatics convinced the faithful to resort to bloody violence, Jews paid little mind to the lifting of their holy words of the Old Testament because of this morphed transition.

     One can believe in Buddhist principles and not be Buddhist.  The acceptance of Christ defines one as Christian.  To be honest I don’t split hairs as billions of beings on this earth all believe in something different than the person next to them and that includes those of the same faith.  One’s mind decides what image their god is, not an organized religion and that is the point.  The rest is just debate over semantics of, why, where, who, and when.  Here’s the secret-No One Knows.  The interpretation of that quote itself is in the Rig Veda one of the oldest religious texts in the world, predating the “Bible” by thousands of years.  What you think and feel is totally different than the guy next to you no matter if you both are indoctrinated in the same religion.  The abstract image that your brain produces is unique to you.  Gods are creations of man and to begin to separate and get totally technical over the four ‘w’s is mentally exhausting for me.  It doesn’t matter.  Even Christianity, (that would be the new members that were converted to Judaism without circumcision or dietary laws) had over 17 sects by 100 AD all of which were radically different from each other.
 

     In the end, you have the choice to believe in the self and your ability to draw on the energy inside and that is the essence of the metaphysical and hence religion’s essence as well, it just that we externalize those wants and feelings to solidify our security factor in numbers and the manipulative power mongers and opportunists take advantage of it as they have throughout history.  Is there a God?  I think so, therefore there is.  Atheists may cringe at that thought but again, there is no absolute proof either way and to reduce the debate to the usual Spaghetti Monster tactic doesn’t prove or probe what is deep seated in our human psyche. God? In what form? The answer is the form I choose as I can only think for me.  Only I can live my life and die when the time comes. No matter what your choice, your brain decides what imagery you choose, it is the only thing you have, you are the only person that can be in your reality of life on earth to think. I have no use for man-made ditherings of belief so I believe in the energy of life (God) and myself as the two are inseparable. 

     It takes conviction and the path is only for those who are strong as it is the road not taken and it is the one path that gets the most abuse from both devout believers and atheists (believe me).  I don’t really care, my life is full and my worries few.  I’ve died and gone over and as beautiful as the experience was, it is much better to be alive than absorbed by eternity. 

     Live life fully and don’t question it’s why, where, who, and when’s.”

Malcolm Campbell author of “The Sun Singer” reviews my novel “Only Moments.”  Malcolm hails from Georgia and posted this on communati.com on November 21st and gave the book a four star rating on Amazon.com.  Malcolm’s website can be accessed from the links list on the left.

When you watch a man dancing on a dark stage in front of a flashing strobe light, you see only moments of the dance. Nick Oliva has taken the defining, and often poignant vignettes, of musician Chris Vadia’s life and choreographed them into a remarkable novel.

We begin in the future, after all of the moments are long gone–a coming-of-age car trip, first love, marriage, marital strife, a husband-and-wife performance at Carnegie Hall, the death of a spouse–and look at events so fresh they appear to be happening now! But they are of the past and cannot be changed, and they take us–along with Chris–figuratively back in time and where they dance before our eyes in perfect detail before we move on.

The struggling Chris we find within each moment of his life’s journey is not the Chris observing his past from the perspective of a man who learns, is learning, actually, that his seemingly disparate moments of joy and sorrow that appear to have been separated by time and space and vantage point are connected into a well-defined, sensible whole.

If you’re a musician and/or if music impacts your life in meaningful ways, you will appreciate the impact of Oliva’s experience as a musician on the piano/violin practice and performance scenes. But you’ll also see as you read from moment to moment that music is one of several apt metaphors in “Only Moments.” Life’s moments are like the notes in a composer’s great work in progress, a work that in spite of all the choices, false starts, crescendos, decrescendos, and improvisations, turns out the only way it possibly could have turned out.

A long-time fan of Joseph Campbell and his hero path structure or myth and mythic stories, I see within the pages of this novel that Chris Vadia is discovering–like all heroes on the path–that the events of one’s journey, in all their glory, are the tip of the iceberg to the important inner journey we all travel from birth to death and beyond.

“Only Moments” is the journey of a lifetime carried forward on the wings of Chris Vadia’s stirring memories and Nick Oliva’s stirring prose.