Category Archives: Personal

Saturday afternoon on the street, a true story

Walk down the street. The man in front of you is disheveled and has wild hair. He speaks to himself, sometimes a mumble. Sometimes alternating volume. Sometimes abruptly stopping mid-sentence to wait a moment and start a seemingly unrelated sentence.

Then he says, loud and clear: “Just Kill them yourself. It’s easy.”
Then he mumbles something.
He crosses the street.
There is a man on the corner sitting on the sidewalk with a begging sign.
The disheveled man says, “Hi, Frank.”
The man on the corner says, “Hi, Ned.”

The walking man walks on down the block, talking.

Reagan’s Legacy: Homelessness in America

IMG_0837

Representations of Muhammad [for Charlie Hebdo]

in, out, and about the box [for Charlie Hebdo]

If a cartoonist draws Muhammad, he or she invariably will frame that drawing between four straight lines, a graphic representation of a box. Herein lies a problem: Nobody puts Muhammad in a box.

The Muhammad in a Box was a toy popular in the fifties. You turned the crank and it played a tune. But Muhammad never popped out. Angry parents would take the toy to the manufacturer and complain. The manufacturer invariably told them that Muhammad does not “pop out.” Such would be unseemly.

Some asked if Muhammad was really in the box. Here the manufacturer had to be clever. He said that Muhammad was, in fact, simultaneously in the box and not in the box at the same time. Possibly with, or without, a cat. “Is he or isn’t he?” they would ask. And he would reply “It depends on whether you want him to be. Do you want him to be? Are you looking? What are your expectations? Would you know him if you saw him? Would you know him from Jack? Perhaps you and your questioning are really the issue here.”

In this way, while there was never a no-return policy, the lack of returns was assured.
Sometimes people would journey to the manufacturer and ask, “If Muhammad is in the box, what is he doing in there?” and associated questions like, “How did he come to be in the box, if that is where he is?” and “Is there possibly anyone else in there?” sometimes followed by “and how do they get along?” Occasionally a traveler looking for answers would become clever and ask, “Are we even talking about the same Muhammad? It is a very common name.”

The manufacturer would say, “No one knows” “It is matter for the scholars” “How is it any of your business?” “With the utmost hospitality, as is the custom” and “Look in your own heart.”

The fast food outlet Muhammad in the Box makes the best falafel, granted the locations are difficult to find. They neither advertise or have a logo. But their falafel is the best, or at least that’s what they keep telling me.
——
From the upcoming book Tragic Stories Disguised as Jokes by David Raffin
***

And also an excerpt from Viva Chapeau
from the book Rhyme or Treason (the hard fought illusion of choice) by David Raffin :

Now, Islam is the youngest of the three faiths descended from Judaism.
Muslims pray on a schedule five times a day. Five Times. I am amazed you can get any suicide killings planned and carried out on that kind of a schedule.

In this country a lot of people believe “Moslem” is synonymous with “terrorist.”
This is probably unfair. Like all the Jews who don’t run people over with bulldozers, and all the Christians who don’t torture people, there are all those Moslems who defy categorization by not blowing anything up. In mathematics there is a phrase for all of these people in all three groups: they are individuals who fall outside the standard deviation.

It should be pointed out that men wearing turbans are more than likely not Moslems but Sikhs. I have nothing disparaging to say about the turban. The turban is a perfectly fine piece of headgear. In fact, I like to think the turban is a great mystery box that may hold many fascinating things.

In the 1970s, in the Saturday morning cartoon starring the Harlem Globetrotters, there was a character (“Sweet Lou” Dunbar) who could at any point reach into his giant Afro and pull out whatever was needed. I like to think this about the turban.
It may not be true, but that has never stopped the propagation of any belief.

Sweat the backstory

At night it falls as low as 17°.
The sweater I am wearing comes from near the beach. It was knitted by hand by a lady with MS. She owned a large cat who would sit on the piles of sweaters for sale.
I don’t have stories for all my clothes. Most people are not aware of the backstory of their attire. And they’re not all as nice as that. Best not to ask the origin of my pants.

An excerpt from my user manual

I don’t know if you can tell this just by looking, but I move my mouth through a process of mind control. The fact that you can’t tell this, it seems seamless, is part of the art; or rather, the magic of the act.

Up close I am life sized. This is explained in the manual, though I know no one ever reads instructional guides. But this is alright as I am also fully automatic. Please do not be unduly alarmed.

–This is an excerpt from my user manual. I know it is strange to mention the fact that no one reads user manuals in my user manual but it is a very meta user manual.

Yesterday I saw…

I saw a man with a giant afro. At a distance it looked like a giant cowboy hat. It is impossible to express the joy of this sighting.
Blame psychogenic alexithymia, if you must.

A sign at a rest stop stating “You cannot be forced into work” translated into many languages. Whoever hangs these posters are unfamiliar with the peculiarities of capitalism in society. Also they hang these signs over the sinks, showing they are unaware that 90% of men do not wash up in the bathroom. And that is another reason to avoid shaking hands.
Or perhaps they do know these things. I enjoy a good conspiracy theory.

I thought: “People don’t ride trains enough because there aren’t enough trains. There aren’t enough trains because there isn’t enough track. Society has gone off track.”

I ate at a vegan restaurant. I like to eat at vegan restaurants because they have a wider selection of food I want to eat. I ate at Papa G’s vegan organic deli. It looked like this:

Tempeh, corn, mashed potato with mushroom gravy. Papa G's Portland, OR.
Tempeh, corn, mashed potato with mushroom gravy. Papa G’s Portland, OR.

A cat tried to steal my love.
IMG_0708

A haircut story

A few years ago I got a haircut at a home salon which advertised with a homemade sign planted at the side of the driveway.
I was sat in the chair and prepped. She started cutting. Within seconds she attempted small talk.
“So, you have a girlfriend?”
“No,” I said.
“Why not!” she said loudly. “Are you the gay?”

That is my friend Jodi‘s favorite story about me getting a haircut. But, in all fairness, it may be my only story about me getting a haircut.

(see also this story about a robot barber)

Sometimes I think of Canada and their doughnuts

You know, I have never eaten at a Canadian restaurant. So I have never tasted Canadian food, having never traversed the 250 miles to the border. But I have grown, over time, to suspect that Canadian food is mostly doughnuts. And that hardly seems worth the drive.

I do get the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) here and it is mostly hockey games and doughnut advertisements.

And yes, I understand they also have fries with gravy on them. And doughnuts. But they are proud Canadian doughnuts, no doubt. They don’t call them doughnuts though. They call them “The circle of life.”

And they did name a city “Moose Jaw*” so I have to give them that. Do you have any idea what the per capita consumption of doughnuts is in Moose Jaw?

–––
* I only know this because I have
a lot of albums by the Guess Who.
This only impresses Canadians.
–––

I do love The Guess Who. And here is a webpage where you can download a live recording from 1974.  Very nice!

 

           

Mourning devotional for two universes

Every day I am faced with an ethical dilemma.

I never look my mirror self in the eye. One of us is evil. It’s best not to know.

If I find that I am evil I may have to change my evil ways. As you can imagine, I have a lot of time, money, and effort invested in my evil ways and prefer to think of my ways not as evil but as reasonable and balanced, nay, even, if I may be so bold, necessary. Thus I prefer not to know.

If I find I am the evil one I may snap and decide to go all out on the evil front. There would be nothing to contain me. This precludes balance. Will the good me become more good as the evil me becomes more bad? Will this continue until the two universes rupture and split, destroying all? Or will the good version of myself drift inevitably and inextricably toward evil, becoming known as the dreaded lesser evil? Either outcome is one I choose to discourage.

If I am the good one I may have to spend the rest of my life challenging the work of my evil mirror universe self. This is a major time commitment, crossing two universes (that may have separate and disparate understandings of good and evil to boot) that I am not comfortable with at this time; and let’s be honest, I never will be. This may be evidence that I am the evil version of myself, a man who cannot be bothered to know the difference between good and evil– proving that apathy is the greatest evil. But, no, let us* say no more on that front. Yes, I have already forgotten it.

‘Til tomorrow.

(* We, Me & I)

The state of healthcare

IMG_0348 by Raffin.David
IMG_0348, a photo by Raffin.David on Flickr.

The good news is that I have neither the rocking’ pneumonia or the boogie woogie blues. The bad news, as explained by my doctor, is that I am in love with a ghost. “We refer to that as ghostly melancholia,” he said. “Always unrequited,” he added, “as ghosts are insubstantial.”
“What is the prognosis?” I asked.
“We usually treat this with ice cream and the collected sad songs of Johnny Cash. However, I must advise you that this almost always causes the condition to spiral into melancholia caused by eating too much ice cream and listening to too many sad songs, making one forget, but not entirely, the original malady.”
“You know,” I said, “I came in here to see about my hip impingement.”
“Who’s the doctor here?” he said, handing me a quart of vegan ice cream and a Johnny Cash box set.
– http://davidraffin.com

I lick art.

“I don’t know art, but I know what I lick.”
– David Raffin