Eight and one half by five and one half should be enough, but how can one be sure when there are so many other measurements to choose from.
To get an idea of the size, because it was difficult for me to imagine it, I held up a ruler, first one way and then another; thinking to myself, “Eight and one half by five and one and a half, eight and one half by five and one half”.
This, though I repeated the words in my head several times, did nothing for my confidence in the length and width I had decided upon.
Thinking that another opinion, the opinion of someone who might know, would help I headed down to the small art store in town in order to speak with the owner.
The owner, for that is what I call him, “The owner”, not only sold a wide variety of tools used by artists for the creation of art, but also offered a framing service in which I imagined he regularly made use of a tape measure, or a ruler, and maybe even a yard stick.
As it turns out the owner was full of suggestions, rubbing the back of his head, leaning with both hands on the table in front of him, making faces when he did some figures for my benefit, and just all around putting on quite a show of helping me, which he did.
in conjunction with
For the benefit of all mankind
A believed (by some) to be soon obsolete form
for the conveying of information to the people
on the various discoveries made
in the study of all manner of circumstance
within the highly regarded and world leading Institute
have been distributed hither and yon
within the land of the sandwich eaters
for the purpose of them being found
by those not looking for them.
you will find
for verifying the veracity
of what has been stated
Raining, stuck inside with San Francisco just beyond the door1. Maybe I could use an umbrella, but with the drops of rain being the size of light bulbs2, and the wind whipping around like a small dog in the front room of an old lady’s house3 it would surely be destroyed in an instant4. So, I just sat there, looking out the kitchen window, absentmindedly writing on a note pad5, and drinking glass after glass of water6 until my bladder was near bursting. But, before it could, and since a bathroom was both readily accessible and relatively clean, I went to use it7. Standing there, with the seat in the upright position, just as I’ve been told it should be, I looked out the window in front of me at as lovely a scene as one could hope to have when in the act of relieving themselves. Out there, under a sheet of dark clouds, was the city by the bay8, the town you once put flowers in your hair before visiting9, the home of the World Series champions10, the bedroom community for both Facebook and twitter11, on and on and on the list goes, and the only thing that was stopping me from taking it all in were those raindrops which, like I already mentioned, were the size of light bulbs. “Damn”, I’m almost sure I said, gazing into the distance at the Transamerica Pyramid12, “tomorrow, if the sun is shining, I am going to walk all the way to that pyramid, touch it, turn around, and come back”. Finishing up and flushing, but forgetting to wash my hands in the excitement of my upcoming journey, I headed out the door and up the stairs to the apartment of my gracious hosts in order to share with them what I had resolved myself to doing. Walking right in without knocking I called out before even laying eyes on them “Tomorrow I’m walking to the pyramid, touching it, and walking back”. Even then, saying it out loud for the second time, it didn’t sound crazy until I heard from the lady of the house, “Not inappropriately, I hope”? “What”? I thought to myself, and then realizing replied “Oh, no, I wouldn’t dream of it”, both of us getting a good chuckle out of that.
The next morning I woke up early, though not earlier than I normally do being a long time believer in everything Benjamin Franklin13 ever said, and began preparing mentally for the day. I did this mostly by not thinking about it, and by immersing myself completely in various issues of ‘The Baker Street Journal’14. Once the sun was up, and, I thought, possibly my hosts as well, I went upstairs to wish them a good morning, and to remind them of the mission I was undertaking so as to end any worry they may have about how they could go about entertaining me for the day. After doing so, noticing their discomfort with my intention to “touch the pyramid” by the way their eyebrows gathered in the center of their heads and their mouths scrunched up tight and small, I excused myself with a mock military salute, and a farewell of “I shall return”15 before turning and walking out the door.
Once on the street, out of that building for the first time in a day and a half, I practically broke into a run toward my destination of that gloriously modern pyramid, then, remembering it was going to be quite a hike16, I slowed my pace to a leisurely stroll and began to take in the sights and sounds all around me. The sounds, though probably not any different than the sounds of any large metropolitan area, filled me with wonder; all the time, at the slightest noise I found myself exclaiming, ”What was that”?!, or complaining, “God damn that’s loud”, and then when it was really loud asking, “Do you think it could be any louder”?, to which it seemed the city itself answered back by increasing the volume to the point that I really believed I might go deaf17. The sights, at first, were quite delightful as San Francisco is filled with beautiful old Victorian buildings18 as well as exotic plants and trees that were an amazing shade of green even at the end of December. Yet, as I moved further along on my journey something unattractive, something kind of nasty actually soon became apparent. Everywhere I looked was trash, discarded garbage, it was all I could see, all of the city’s beauty disappeared, and with my heart near breaking I cried out, “San Francisco is filthy”!
Saddened by San Francisco’s sanitation situation I walked aimlessly, unable to avert my eyes19 from the mess that surrounded me, and then, almost ready to give up my pilgrimage and return to the quiet solitude of the apartment generously provided to me, I turned a corner, and there in the green grass yard of a modest little house was a sight that rejuvenated my senses, and sent my spirit soaring once again.
Here amidst the refuse of man, the unwanted objects and cast away items of the 21st century that littered the streets was a reminder of the spirit of the season20 embodied in this simple Christmas display. So taken by it was I that I paused for some moments to pay my respects, and in return received its gift of hope and energy for continuing on, until full to brimming with Holiday cheer I turned away and continued onward toward my goal.
From that point on whatever I saw along my journey was tinged with the beautiful glow I imagined those Santa Claus lights made when illuminated in the night; my stride became longer, my chin raised higher, my eyes once again seeing the loveliness of it all. So light was I now with this returned joy that I flew up and over the many hills before me with little effort until I arrived in no time at Union Square21. Here in the very heart of the city, making my way through the crowds of shoppers, all with Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays upon their lips, I was presented yet again with a delightful image of holiday tradition brought to this moderate climate through the marvel of modern technology, but looking, for all intents and purposes22 like a picture print by Currier and Ives23. Under the great shadows of the looming buildings and set amongst a variety of palm trees was an ice rink filled with laughing children, happy families and young lovers skating24 around and around to the accompaniment of the beautiful sound of Christmas carols.
Hypnotized by this holiday wonder, easily could I have watched the merriment of the skaters until the Sun had long gone to bed, and the air grew chill making me wish I had a jacket or at least a sweater25 to wear for the completion of my journey, but this could not be, for across the city the pyramid softly called to me, its voice breaking through the silver bells, across the jingling and the ring ting tingling, too26, pulling me away from the happy holiday crowd, and back on the street again27.
What forces28, I wondered, compelled me to make this journey, showed me such wondrous sights of Christmas cheer impelling me to go on when pile after pile of garbage seemed to stand in my way, only now, so close to my destination, to fill my head with worries and fear about what awaited me at the Pyramid. Near blinded by these unanswerable questions, dizzy from the words, “There’s no telling”29 ringing in my ears I stumbled toward a doorway to rest, and then, looking up, as my eyes began once more to clear, I saw a sign.
[Knowing full well30 that this sign was, as most signs unfortunately often are, just a sign; a sign signifying nothing more than the presence of the “Palace of Fine Junk” at this particular location, I was still unable to help myself from making more of it, being as I regularly believe there must be something to just about anything, as well as feeling compelled to go to great lengths to prove it, or at least give it the surface shine of appearing that way. The word “Krims Krams” for instance, though known to me, on account of my Scandinavian heritage31, to be simply the Swedish word for knick knacks, or odds, and ends, or even rubbish could very well be, I decided at that moment, the names of the proprietors of the shop; Mr. Krims and Mr. Krams, two affirmed bachelors living above their shop in an apartment so astoundingly disorganized and full to overflowing with bric-a-brac that they regularly became lost in their own mess, having to eventually paint arrows upon the ceiling for pointing them in the right direction. Or, also occurring to me, and perhaps the more likely of the two ideas I had, was that “Krims-Krams” is an incantation32, more powerful than abracadabra, or open sesame, written upon the sign in order to work its magic on those passing by who may be, as some are, in the annoying habit of reading aloud just about every words they come across. The contents and purpose of the shop were also open to prevarication, but not because of the shop being closed, or its windows so filthy as to make peeking in impossible, for, as I once remarked to myself, nothing as mundane as the facts of the matter are required for making more of it.]‡‡
Narrowly escaping from what I now call, “The Sign Trap”, I resumed my journey to the pyramid still determined to “touch it”, but not as enthusiastic as I might have been earlier in the day. Somehow I had lost sight of the big picture, that is, I had forgotten the reasons, if there ever were any, for proceeding upon this pilgrimage in the first place. To touch the pyramid as the motivation behind my pilgrimage seemed, as I walked the last few yards of my incredible hike, ridiculous, and furthermore, calling this a “pilgrimage” which did not sit right with me from the beginning, was now clearly only a result of my obsessive need to alliterate, always jumping in on its side and damn the consequences. I was at the end of my rope, on the ropes, wondered how I had roped myself into this, felt like if time travel were at all possible, according to the laws of science, that I would travel back to the bathroom when I first uttered those cursed words, “tomorrow, if the sun is shining, I am going to walk all the way to that pyramid, touch it, turn around, and come back”, and tell myself to “Go piss up a rope”. Too late for that now, nothing but wishful thinking33.
There it was right in front of me finally, the pyramid. Whoopee. It wasn’t nearly as impressive as I thought it would be, looked like it was straight out of the seventies, which it kind of was, all disco, and, well, all disco and shit. [I had a friend, Tim, who having just moved to my neighborhood asked me if the other kids would get mad at him if he wore a shirt that said, “Disco Sucks” on it. I told him I didn’t think so, as most of the other children (I really said, “children”! (can you believe it?)) did not care for disco, and would welcome him into the fold gladly, though I later discouraged him from wearing a ‘Molly Hatchet’ t-shirt, but only for personal reasons] So, less than enthusiastically I touched the pyramid, leaving my hand flat against it for somewhere between ten and twelve seconds, and, as I said I would, turned around to walk back. That was when I noticed, carved into the concrete sidewalk, a group of what I can only describe as “occult symbols”. Ready, as I always am, and have tried to convey to you on several occasions, to make something of it, I was stopped from doing so by what was obviously the reason for my journey, the message I was intended to receive from those unknowable Forces.
Notes1. “Beyond the door” is coincidentally (?) the title of a film released in 1974 about, as its theatrical release poster read, “…the most terrifying event in the history of mankind…”. This “terrifying event’, which takes place in San Francisco, is the birth of the Antichrist as well as the events, most likely fictionalized for the film ,surrounding it. A similar film, made in 1968, and taking place in New York City, is, ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ wherein the character Roman Castevet at a New Year’s Eve party toasts “To 1966! The year one”. While there is some dispute about whether the birthplace of the Antichrist was New York or San Francisco, many site the Transamerica Pyramid’s construction beginning in 1969 and finishing in 1972, as well as the World Trade Center construction which began in 1966, with the north tower being opened in Dec. 1970 and the south tower in Jan. 1972, as being no coincidence, but instead the building of monuments in celebration of the Antichrist’s birth, or “the year one”. The opening theme for ‘Beyond the Door’ is a new favorite of mine and I think, once you listen closely, it will be yours, too. Incidentally, this song, while not written by me or by anyone I know, portrays, almost exactly, an event which took place a long time ago between the Devil and me. How the writer learned of it I do not know, I never told a soul, so, it was probably the Devil. 2. In the drawing below you can see the dimensions (not including the base) of a typical incandescent bulb which is the type I was thinking of when describing “the drops of rain being the size of light bulbs”. Incidentally, according to ‘the all seeing and the all knowing great’ Wikipedia: “Because of their inefficiency, incandescent light bulbs are gradually being replaced in many applications by other types of electric lights, such as fluorescent lamps, compact fluorescent lamps (CFL), cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL), high-intensity discharge lamps, and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Some jurisdictions, such as the European Union, are in the process of phasing out the use of incandescent light bulbs.” measurements in inches All of which I mention for the use of future readers who may not be familiar with the kind of light bulb I am thinking of and therefore imagine the rain drops to be either smaller or larger than they actually were. 3. Originally I had my doubts about “like a small dog in the front room of an old lady’s house” being the best description of the wind’s behavior as I thought that the sight of a small dog running crazily (whipping) around an old lady’s front room might be of a reality perceived only by me and not common enough to create an idea in people’s minds of just how windy it was. However, after a small amount of research I did find that it is not an uncommon occurrence and may even be desirable if the following video is any indication. 4. My thought that an umbrella “would surely be destroyed in an instant” was confirmed later when I came across an abandoned umbrella that no doubt suffered its demise through the mindless violence of the wind. A book on dream interpretation the title of which I cannot recall had this to say about broken umbrellas, “Traditionally, the umbrella is the symbol of security. However, if the umbrella is broken or turned inside out your ultimate achievement is still possible, but it will be delayed.” Which in the case of my pilgrimage to the pyramid turned out to be quite correct, though, it wasn’t a dream…or was it?! 5. This is the note pad that I “jotted” The Three Directives’ upon and which is the subject of episode two of this series titled ‘All is not lost, but nearly’. Note: “Three” a number with much meaning discussed below. 6. The water came from the Hetch Hetchy reservoir (see map below), and was quite delicious, but not nearly as tasty as the water from the Institute’s private well. 7. This is the third time when using or about to use a restroom I received revelations of some importance. First, I discover the envelope leading me to the new spokesmistress for The Institute for the Study of Slightly Varying Circumstances, Svetlana Trumm. Second, I see the sign upon which is written the name, “Stout of Circumstance”, which I then order and imbibe leading to the discovery of the record, ‘Rail dynamics’, on the back of which is written, “under a variety of circumstances”, causing me to purchase it. And then, thirdly, I, after drinking a large amount of water (even though I was not thirsty) saw, through the bathroom window, the Transamerica Pyramid and was overtaken by a desire to “touch it”. Realizing all of this I, knowing there must be something to it found information that reinforced this idea. According tot he Encyclopedia Britannica: “The number 3 is a very mystical and spiritual number featured in many folktales (three wishes, three guesses, three little pigs, three bears, three billy goats gruff).” And now add “The three determining factors beyond willful control” According to a very reliable web site on number symbolism: “Number three expresses all aspects of creation, including birth life and death, past, present and future, and mind body and soul and man, woman and child.” “The symbolism of three is also linked with the triangle.” According to a web site about the Illuminati and our Reptilian Overlords: “The “eye” that Scripture wants us to consider is not the physical organ of sight, but the eye of the mind or the soul. This singular “eye” is called the “third eye” of clairvoyance in the Hindu religion, the eye of Osiris in Egypt, and the All-Seeing Eye in Freemasonry” According to Jack White III: “The first time it hit me, I was working in an upholstery shop. There was a piece of fabric over part of a couch. The guy I was working for put in three staples. You couldn’t have one or two, but three was the minimum way to upholster something. And it seemed things kept revolving around that. Like, you only need to have three legs on a table. After two, three meant many, and that was it, you don’t have to go any further than that: the three components of songwriting, the three chords of rock’n’roll or the blues – that always seemed to be the number.” And, don’t forget, Jack, “The three determining factors beyond willful control”. Jack White III And, if that wasn’t enough According to a web site that says it is “The doorway to signs and symbolic meanings”: “Three may also represent promising new adventures” Furthermore, in relation to my restroom experiences, if we were to define ‘rest’ as mental or spiritual calm, and in turn define calm as silence, then thinking of silence in the following way: “Out of Stillness and Silence of the Infinite consciousness came this universe of forms” it would then not seem impossible or even improbable that a restroom could be a conduit for conveying certain truths.
8. “City by the bay” probably puts you in mind of the song ‘Lights’ written by Steve Perry soon after he joined the band ‘Journey’ which had its origins in San Francisco. However, the song was originally intended to be about Los Angeles, but then realizing that “’The bay’ fit so nice”, Perry said he changed it because “I love San Francisco, the bay and the whole thing”. Journey 9. This, as I am sure you are painfully aware, is a reference to a song written by John Phillips and recorded by Scott McKenzie. Originally titled ‘If you’re going to San Francisco’ it is commonly called ‘San Francisco (Be sure to wear flowers in your hair. Thought by some to be to blame for bringing thousands of young people to San Francisco, the song was also supposedly adopted by, again, young people as an anthem for freedom in Central Europe, and was “widely played” according to your old pal, Wikipedia, during the 1968 Prague Spring. 10. The San Francisco Giants, or ‘Gigantes’ as they are known to their Spanish speaking supporters, are a Major League Baseball team that while in San Francisco have won the World Series twice, once in 2010 and then again in 2012.* Having been originally located in New York where they won a total of five World Series after their founding in 1883 as ‘The Gothams’, they moved to San Francisco in 1957. It is claimed by detractors of the Hetch Hetchy reservoir which supplies San Francisco with its drinking water, that the reason for the team only winning two championships in almost 60 years is because of the players ingesting large amounts of Hetch Hetchy water. And while this theory remains popular among conspiracy buffs it has yet to be substantiated scientifically. *Steve Perry sang the song ‘Lights’ (see above note) once during the 2010 World Series and twice during the 2012 Series. 11. Facebook’s headquarters are in Palo Alto, California just a mere 37 minute drive from San Francisco, while twitter’s headquarters (which has a yoga studio, a rooftop garden and an arcade) is right on Market Street within the city itself. Both companies hire, on the average, people in their twenties to work for them creating a large population in the city of young people who (statistically) do not make a habit of wearing flowers in their hair. 12. While researching the Transamerica Pyramid, especially its part in ushering in a time of darkness when evil will rule the earth, I came across the following on a web site that will remain nameless so as to not result in the visitor numbers increasing and in turn causing the site’s author to think “They’re on to him”. “The latitude of the City of San Francisco, California is 37.8 N Latitude. San Francisco is the Number One city in the USA which worships Sin. The tallest building is the Transamerica Building, which is pyramid like in shape. There may be a territorial demon which rules over 378 San Francisco. The Transamerica Pyramid is 260 meters tall. . built in 1972 The Nineveh Constant of 2268 may be connected to the idea of a 260 degree circle and the Great Cycle of the Sun which uses a fractal of 260.. More happenstance?
for the Study of
Slightly Varying Circumstances
.Hello, and welcome to, ‘Hey, look at the records I got!’, I’m your host the President and Founder, and in this episode I am going to show, and give you a listen to three records I purchased while in the city of San Francisco on my recent California sojourn.
San Francisco, according to the SF Weekly, has “a ton of awesome record stores” which I will have take their word on as I visited only three, one of which I am not even going to mention because, to be honest, it stank, and not in the good way that record stores stink, but in the too big, filled with a lot of crap way I’m sure you’re all familiar with. Personally I like the small stores, with one or two guys behind the counter acting like it’s their living room, either oblivious to your presence, or looking at you like you showed up to their party uninvited, but that’s neither here nor there, I’ve got records to show you!
THaving decided to spend a good deal of the day hunting for records I left the apartment, generously lent to me for my stay, early, but knowing that no record store would be open until the sun was at least midway across the sky I headed for Golden Gate Park. My reason for going to the park was solely to visit the cenotaph1 honoring James A. Garfield, the 20th President of the United States who was shot twice and killed in 1881 after having been President for only 10 months2. After standing there as solemnly as I could for anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes, ruminating on the nature of existence, and checking the Sun’s position in the sky, I, feeling that was sufficient, pulled out my conveniently small, but powerful Canon Powershot S95 and got down to the business of snapping some pics of the cenotaph. What interested me most about the cenotaph was not the statue of Garfield standing up top with his hands in front of him and looking over the park like he was surveying his kingdom, but the statue below him of a seated woman who it turns out was a representation of Columbia the female symbol for the United States. In her right hand Columbia is holding a broken sword symbolizing the President’s assassination, and in her left what I think is a laurel wreath whose meaning I can only guess at, and so will refrain from doing so.
Having taken probably 30 pictures (a few of which turned out alright and are presented above for your enjoyment) from various angles, and with a multitude of different camera settings I, seeing that the Sun was at its zenith decided it was time to commence with my record safari, but, as it was so very close, and quite lovely to look at, I first made a short detour over to the Conservatory of Flowers3. This Victorian era greenhouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the California Register of Historical Places, is a California Historical Landmark, and a San Francisco Designated Landmark, all of which should not be surprising once you take a gander at the snap I got of it. Beautiful, just beautiful, and filled with over 1700 plant species, too!
The first record store which I was to visit, and the one I said I wouldn’t mention1, is located right on the edge of the park making it a convenient, if unfortunately horribly depressing place to start. Emerging from the building, a onetime bowling alley, which explains the greasy grimy feeling I acquired while within it, after what seemed an eternity trapped amongst its monstrous collection of records, DVDs, CDs, as well as a large amount of Rock and Roll lifestyle products, I set forth deep into what the locals call “The Upper Haight”2. This area of the city is by no means an easy one to navigate for all along the street, and within and without of the shops which line it lurk dangers; not physical dangers mind you, though they may be present and of concern to those of a less formidable aspect than myself, but instead dangers to one’s state of mind, no matter their size or shape, which can and do cause those attacked to suffer a wide variety of personal misfortunes from a simple emotional breakdown to a full blown case of insanity. Luckily I made it through relatively unscathed, as I am quite adept at averting my eyes and refusing to listen, arriving at ‘Recycled Records’ near the corner of Masonic and Haight where unbeknownst to me was waiting an album I had been in search of for a long time.
.There is a way I go about looking, an order to my searching; it is the same every time I step into a record store, except this time. This time as I entered the sight of a wall covered with record jackets1 greeted me, which I admit is not unusual to this store, but what was unusual, horrifyingly so, was that among those jackets were more than a few that featured the musical stylings of John Travolta. Now, I have no recollection of his musical career which I guess must have been in the mid 1970s, and I did not take the opportunity then to listen to any of them, though I could have, but didn’t, for the reason that the images of John Travolta’s face on the jackets so disturbed me that I could do nothing but stand in slack jawed and wide eyed amazement. Eventually, I snapped out of it having caught a glimpse of Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers on the cover of a copy of ‘Islands in the stream’2 threatening at first to send me spiraling into madness, but which actually allowed me the precious few moments needed to break what I now call “The Travolta Trance”3. Released from the spell I began going through the bins with a general idea of what I wanted, but not thinking of any one album in particular. Then, after reviewing the order of the alphabet in my head I found the ‘C’ section where I came across an album I have been pursuing partly for sentimental reasons but mostly because it’s really good, even with the specter of groove cramming4 that surrounds it, which, by the way is addressed by no other than Nick Lowe himself on the jacket where he assures the listener that he and Elvis had discussed the issue and decided it was cool. But don’t take my word for it, here’s Nick’s:
The album ‘Get Happy!!” by Elvis Costello and the Attractions was released in 19805 and contains 20 songs, not one of which I wouldn’t have been proud to write myself, as well as play for you, but unfortunately because of limited time I can choose only one. The track I decided to play is called, ‘King Horse’, a perennial favorite of mine. Give it a listen.
Having gotten quite happy with the acquisition of a long sought after album I, feeling hungry, but also desiring to celebrate decided upon having a bite to eat. Not far from Recycled Records exactly on the corner was a restaurant that seemed, from its outward appearance, and that it was pretty busy, to be as good a place as any, so I entered. Once seated I immediately inquired as to the whereabouts of the restroom1, and being pointed in the right direction I proceeded to it for the use of its intended purpose. On the way I noticed upon a blackboard a list of the wide variety of beers which were not only offered there, but also brewed on the premises. This I normally would have paid little attention to if it were not for the name of one of the beers stopping me in my tracks.
Happy as I was already, the reading of the name “Stout of Circumstance” caused me to be seized with such a paroxysm of laughter2 that the other patrons became nervous and trying to pretend not to notice me, situated themselves in their chairs in such a way as to allow easy escape in the case of my proving to be dangerous3. Of course, being that I am the Founder and President of The Institute for the Study of Slightly Varying Circumstances I had no choice but to sample the beverage which, after taking care of my personal business, I did.
Full to bursting I was once again ready to resume my hunt which would now require a walk of some distance4 to the next record store I wished to visit, called, ‘Grooves’. Yes, I was thinking the same thing, “Grooves”?, oh, this could be awful, possibly the worst, scarring me so deeply that I would be in need of not venturing out of the apartment for up to a day and a half, but I was resolved to go to the place no matter my fears.
‘Grooves’ is on Market right across the street from what used to be the home to the Anarchist Bookstore, and fortunately for me right next door to ‘It’s Tops’ restaurant. I say fortunately because although the day was half over ‘Grooves’ had yet to open, so while I waited I stepped into ‘It’s Tops’ for a cup of coffee (made, no doubt, with Hetch hetchy water5), which was practically begging to be drowned with creme and that never seemed to empty. Filled up with enough coffee to keep me sharp while on safari I paid the lady and after stepping outside was disappointed to find the record store still unopened. So, making the best of it I took to watching a giant crane being used on a nearby construction site imagining the horror of it crashing to the ground and wondering about the chances of my survival5 if it did until finally the guy working at the store showed up, and I must say, it was well worth the wait.
You may remember earlier how I was telling you that I had a preference for small record stores with one or two guys working there who seemed to be completely unaware of your presence, well, that’s what ‘Grooves’ is. When you’re in there you also won’t be in danger of any emotional damage caused by having to wade through Poco album, after Loggins and Messina album, after Elton John album; sure, they have plenty of records I have no interest in, but they don’t stock every damn album ever made1. Another thing I enjoyed about ‘Grooves’ is that if there was music playing in the store I have no memory of it. There is, for me, nothing as maddening as being assaulted by some awful music, or any music for that matter, played at a high volume while I am attempting to sift through a thousand records. I know, “it’s a music store”, but it is still irritating, and at least in the case of one record store I visit regularly, I believe they do it in order to chase people off. Every time I go into the store they are playing what I call “Satan and his guitar music” you know the kind, deep vocals over screeching noise, all about evil nonsense2.
Anyway, while in ‘Grooves’ I went about my usual method of looking, starting in the Rock and Roll section until completely positive it had nothing to offer, and then on to the Jazz records just to read the highly entertaining liner notes, and then finally, over to the Soundtracks hoping to find some Nino Rota for using in some film or another I may make one day. Nothing, I found nothing, but then, as I made my way to leave I caught sight of the Sound Effects bin. Why I don’t ever think of it I have no idea, but I don’t, not even after only a week or so before finding an album I had as a child called ‘Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House’3 that I immediately purchased and have listened to quite a lot for as awful as it is. So, with high hopes I began looking and was instantly rewarded with a collection of train sounds called ’Rail dynamics’. However, as much as I do enjoy the sound of trains I wasn’t completely sure that I would buy it, that is until, while reading the explanation of what was on the record and why, I came across the following:
““SIDE A” tells a story of the open rail, often with the microphone aboard a moving train. Material for this side was collected under a variety of circumstances with the co-operation and assistance of the New York Central.”
“Under a variety of circumstances”! If this wasn’t a sign then I’m not the President and Founder of The Institute for the Study of Slightly Varying Circumstances, which I am, and so it must be a sign, actually I am quite certain of it4. Needless to say I tucked the record under my arm convinced that I had no choice but to buy it, and continued my looking. Just a few records later I came across another collection of train sounds, this one called “Sounds of Shunting”5. Quickly going over it for any mention of ‘circumstances’ I found none, but because of the photograph on the cover and the description of it as “Locomotive Shunting at Royton Junction in May 1954, I had to have it.
‘Rail dynamics’, as it says on the sleeve, was “Recorded on rainy nights during the fall of 1950 near the Peekskill, N. Y. station, #1070 holds the sounds of most types of engines used by the great New York Central.” Let’s listen!
Record No. 5038-9 ‘Sounds of Shunting’ was recorded in 1956 and 57 at various locations within the United Kingdom. The track we’ll listen to is from September 1957 recorded through the Portland dockyard towards the junction with the Weymouth-Portland line. Wow! I have no idea what that means, but it makes me want to listen, doesn’t it you? I thought so, let’s do.
Well, that’s it, thanks for joining me on my record safari, and for having a listen to the acquisitions I made, I really enjoyed it. There is something though that I do feel I should tell you, and I hope you’ll understand, but we’ve shared so much already it just wouldn’t be right to keep it from you. Here goes. I’m no hi fi enthusiast, I don’t collect rare or valuable records or have any opinion on which albums you should have in your collection; I know next to nothing about Jazz, or Classical music, or any other musical genre for that matter, and my feelings about Rock and Roll can be, for the most part, summed up by the following quote:
So, you may then ask, “Why do you even bother going to record stores then”?, which is a good question and one I have no intention of answering directly, but I can tell you that I enjoy the activity, and if you were to ask, would definitely recommend it as a wholesome pastime for everyone regardless of age, race, creed, color, sex, or sexual orientation.
Until next time,
The President and Founder
Hey, everybody it’s me, the President and Founder, back at you with a very special Bonus Feature. As most of you are aware it was just recently Christmas and as part of the celebrations of this splendid day I like to receive presents from my admirers. This year, I got three excellent records,but unfortunately due to restrictions on how much time can be spent on a bonus feature I can only share one of them with you. Deciding which one turned into a real bummer so I wrote down each of their titles on separate pieces of paper and put them all in a bowl in order to have a completely impartial drawing. As chance would have it I picked the album ‘The language and music of the wolves – narrated by Robert Redford’
The album, ‘The language and music of the wolves – narrated by Robert Redford’ was released in 1971 by the American Museum of Natural History, and if I would have found it myself (and what are the chances of that – slim at best) I probably would have hemmed and hawed about purchasing it (even if it was in the dollar records), and so I am very pleased to have received it as a gift. What I will play for you is track 5 ‘Series of 3 adjacent single howls’ which is described in the following way:
“There’s a great difference in pitch, length, and other features of wolf howls, and the patterns in their harmonics are distinct. We can’t completely distinguish the pattern of harmonics, but a wolf can.”
I love that! “but a wolf can”! Alright, quiet now, close your eyes, and listen to the language and music of the wolves.
The period of time preceding1. A cenotaph is an ‘empty tomb’ honoring someone who is buried elsewhere. The cornerstone of Garfield’s cenotaph contains a box filled with coins, photos, a Bible and the names of the men who built it. The statues were cast in Nuremberg, Germany, and the entire monument cost 28,000 dollars. It was unveiled July 4, 1885. 2. Charles Guiteau is the man who shot and killed President Garfield. He was, I think the term is, a nut. Believing he was instrumental in Garfield’s election to the Presidency, Guiteau began to first hang around the Republican headquarters in New York looking for an award of a diplomatic post, when this didn’t work he went down to Washington. Once there he made himself known at both the White House and the State Department pestering the people there so much that he was banned from the White House waiting room and was told by the secretary of state “Never speak to me again…as long as you live.” Of course after this God started speaking to him, telling him, as God does tell people from time to time, to kill the President. To do as God asked Guiteau realized he’d need a gun and so went right out and bought himself an ivory handled .44 Webley British Bulldog revolver instead of a wooden handled one of the same kind because he thought it would look better in a museum display after he killed Garfield. After this he sent some vaguely threatening letters to the White House (all of which were ignored) and practiced shooting his new gun. Guiteau also wrote a letter to the commanding General of the Army asking for protection from the mob that was sure to form after the assassination as well as other letters justifying his upcoming actions. If this was not enough he then tried to get a tour of the District of Columbia jail in order to see the place he thought they’d send him after he was arrested. And finally, stalking Garfield to a train station where he was seeing his wife off to a resort, Guiteau had the opportunity to shoot him then but chose not to because Mrs. Garfield was sick and he was afraid of upsetting her in that condition. On July 2, 1881 at the sixth street train station in Washington D.C. Guiteau shot Garfield in the back twice, Garfield died just over two months later. At this same time Alexander Graham Bell was hurrying to make improvements on his Graphophone, which itself was an improvement on Thomas Edison’s 1877 invention of the Phonograph, in order to file patents and claim the improvements before Edison could. However, when President Garfield was shot Bell joined with other scientists in attempting to invent an instrument that could locate and dislodge the bullet that still remained inside Garfield. Eventually it was neither Edison nor Bell whose efforts proved successful, but instead it was Emile Berliner in 1887 who, using Lateral-cut disc records, named his system, the Gramophone. Emile Berliner 3. Construction on the Conservatory of Flowers was completed in 1878. The San Francisco Directory for the Year Commencing April 1879 had this to say about it, “The whole building required in its construction twenty-six thousand square feet of glass weighing twenty-five tons, and two tones of putty. It is a marvel of architectural beauty, surpassing in this respect any similar construction in the United States, and is only equaled in size by the Government Conservatory of in the Horticultural Gardens at Washington” It is thought to house the largest and most comprehensive collection of plants in the world including more than 700 of the 1000 known species of Orchids. .
The expedition begins1. Alright, it’s Amoeba Music “The world’s largest independent record store” I am talking about. 2. The Upper Haight is basically where Haight and Ashbury streets intersect which most will recognize as having something to do with stinky hippies, which in turn led directly to the song, “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” which is, I’m sure you’ll agree, an unforgivable offense.
Well pleased1. A ‘record jacket’ is the cardboard outer covering of a vinyl LP, usually decorated in some manner, while the ‘record sleeve’ or ‘dust sleeve’ or ‘album liner’ is the (usually) paper covering inside closest to the record itself, all of which you may have already known and what I mention only in order to confess that technically what was on the wall were 45s which normally come in only a paper sleeve, and are used as a format for releasing ‘singles’, as opposed to an LP which contains a whole album, etcetera, etcetera,…………………………. 2. The song ‘Islands in the stream’ written by the Bee Gees in my memory is a most irritating song, but recently, after listening closely, I was surprised at how haunting of a song it really is. I got chills! Islands in the stream That is what we are No one in-between How can we be wrong Sail away with me to another world And we rely on each other, ah-ah From one lover to another, ah-ah 3. ‘The Travolta Trance’ while debilitating and commonly found today among people waiting in line at supermarket check out stands is nothing compared to ‘Travolta Fever’ which, while rarely encountered since the 70s, is a malady for which there is no cure.
Toward a point ahead1. This is the second time in the three episodes of this series that I have made mention of using the restroom, however I do not do this to shock, but only to reinforce the fact that needing to urinate while on the streets of San Francisco can be very troublesome, but as happened the last time as well as this time also lead to a discovery of immense importance 2. I borrowed “with such a paroxysm of laughter” from Charles Dickens. I just thought I should tell you 3. If any of the other patrons had the ability to read another person’s thoughts they may very well have run from there screaming after reading mine because immediately upon reading “Stout of Circumstance” I was seized not only with laughter, but also with a very deep feeling of paranoia. Realizing that the restaurant was located on the corner of Haight and Masonic and that Henry Haight, an exchange banker who the street was named after, was himself a Mason and that Masons are involved in all sorts of nefarious activities which could definitely include an attempt to lure the Institute, through deception (which the “coincidence” of there being a ‘Stout of Circumstance’ in the very restaurant I chose to eat at playing a part), into its vast web of organizations bent on world domination, knowing full well that if they were to ask me outright to join them I would respond without hesitation, “No, way”!. According to ‘Secrets In Plain Sight – Patterns in Art, Architecture, Urban Design, & the Cosmos’, “San Francisco is brimming with secrets in plain sight.” And goes on to quote Stephen O’Rourke who wrote in the article, ‘The San Francisco Pyramid Saga’, that “Many of the state’s pioneers, Fremont, Stevenson, O’Farrell and Montgomery were Masons. The first Masonic meeting in fact took place only two years after the US took control of San Francisco, on October 17, 1849, at 728 Montgomery Street…[in the adjacent block to where the Transamerica Pyramid now stands]” And I thought I was paranoid! Hah! Don’t even get me started on the Transamerica Pyramid or the Masonic Memorial Temple the address of which is 1111 California street and as everyone knows, and is expressed in ‘Secrets In Plain Sight’, “11 is all about integrating our bicameral minds into a state of balanced consciousness. Schooling emphasizes the left brain at the expense of the right. Advancement in society is almost entirely a left brained affair. The feminine right side of our consciousness is being systematically suppressed.” Isn’t that the truth. The relief sculpture on the building represents the battle between good and evil, the question is, what side are they on! Looming over the city 4. The actual distance is only about three miles, but after sampling the ‘Stout of Circumstance’ as well as having to very carefully transport my recent acquisition of ‘Get Happy!!’, it seemed like at least four or five miles, all up hill with only one good leg, and a head wind. 5. Hetch Hetchy water comes from the Hetch Hetchy reservoir which is where San Francisco gets its water. Some say it’s the best water ever, but that is only because they have never had a glass of ice cold water from the Institute’s private well. 6. I did determine that, in fact, I would not only survive, but also rush to the aid of those who needed it and then later be awarded the key to the city and get to meet Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge who would quite enjoy my company.
Undulations in the groove1. It would be of course impossible for this store or any other to actually stock every record ever made, but can you imagine if it were possible?! I have every now and again wondered if maybe Satan, when not playing his guitar, is in a special room of gigantic proportions forcing people to listen to every album ever made as punishment for their sins. I have not reached any conclusions about what those sins would be, but I may in the near future, I’ll get back to you when I do. 2. Despite my condemnation of this musical genre I know absolutely nothing about it, or even what to call it, so, in order to be well informed, I consulted Wikipedia ’Your friend in the know’ and found both ‘Death Metal’ and ‘Black Metal’ to be likely candidates defined as follows: “Death metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music. It typically employs heavily distorted guitars, tremolo picking, deep growling vocals, blast beat drumming, minor keys or atonality, and complex song structures with multiple tempo changes.” “Black metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music. Common traits include fast tempos, shrieked vocals, highly distorted guitars played with tremolo picking, blast beat drumming, raw recording and unconventional song structures.” I now believe that the music I call “Satan and his guitar music” is probably, between the two genres I found, Death Metal. I like “Satan and his guitar music” better. 3. This album deeply frightened me as a child, but nowhere near to the extent that it does today. 4. Remember, this was the second occurrence of circumstance in one day, the last one leading to me getting a little tipsy, and this one to me excitedly pointing it out to someone who neither knew or cared about it and let me know with one of those “I have no idea what you’re talking about, you lunatic, get any closer to me and I’ll break your arms” looks I often get. 5. I had no idea what ‘shunting’ was and wasn’t sure I wanted to. Later I found out, from my ‘knowledgeable acquaintance’, Wikipedia, what is was. “Shunting, in railway operations, involves the process of sorting items of rolling stock into complete train sets or consists, or the reverse. The United States terminology is “switching”. The occupation of shunter is particularly dangerous as there is a risk of being run over, and on some rail systems, the shunters have to get between the wagons/carriages to complete the coupling process, especially where hook-and-chain coupling systems are in use. This was particularly so in the past (e.g. the Midland Railway used to have an ambulance wagon used at Toton Yard for injured shunters). In the past the main tool was a shunting pole, which allowed the shunter to reach between wagons to fasten couplings, without having to physically go between the vehicles.”
Near the end of the year Two thousand and twelve on holiday along the western coast of what is commonly called the United States1 the Founder and President of the Institute for the Study of Slightly Varying Circumstances, in a fit of absent mindedness2, did write something on a notepad which he then, most egregiously3, left behind upon his departure from the place of his temporary accommodation.
After his return to the bosom of his beloved Institute, the President and Founder did, after starting a fire, for due to his private residence being old and not at all well insulated the temperature therein was a chilly 43 degrees Fahrenheit, take his rightful place upon the purple couch4 for a period of well deserved contemplation. It was then, while dozing off, that he recalled5 his having written upon the notepad as well as his subsequent abandoning of it to an unknown fate6. Realizing this extreme, almost unforgivable error, the President and Founder immediately began to implement the protocols7 governing such a situation by first issuing himself an official Postcard of Admonition8, followed by the making of an announcement to himself declaring the necessity of his being subjected to a series of horrific trials known as, ‘The Circumstance Shakedown’9.
The Circumstance Shakedown while widely feared has been little used in the history of the Institute. Not since shortly after the skirmishes between the forces of good and evil within the nearby orchard has there been any call for its use, and as attitudes have changed since those dark days, most now believing it a barbaric practice, there was little reason to think that anyone would ever again be submitted to its tortures. That is, until now. When news of the President and Founder’s foolishness reached the people’s ears, mostly through the disparaging whispers of the Institute’s enemies (of which there are many I assure you), those who listened, having had only nominal interest in the goings-on within the Institute before this event soon became outraged; many taking to the streets calling for something to be done10, and others, less social with their anger, allowing themselves only to ravenously devour each and every juicy tidbit (and believe me when I say, there were many) released by the local media outlets, and then, full with information, went about the rest of their day contentedly stewing over the impertinence of the President and Founder, whom most now referred to as “That damn President and Founder”!. None of this was lost on the President and Founder who, though he never consulted the masses, or considered their feelings, or thought they had the slightest idea of what they were talking about, so agreed with their disgust at his abhorrent actions that he himself took to those same streets carrying a banner he spent much time and effort in making, and which was complimented on by many in attendance, that read, “SHAKE HIM DOWN!”11. So much so did these three words encapsulate the people’s feelings that the very next day folks of all ages could be found wearing shirts emblazoned with this slogan; so many, in fact, that one of the local Big Box stores sold out of every one they had in stock resulting in more than a few fist fights between shoppers and at least three hospitalizations, one being of a man at the store who, only there to buy an extra large box of peanuts, was completely unaware of the reason for, what the papers quoted him as calling, “all the hullabaloo”. For weeks this went on, with much property damage12, and finally a declaration of martial law by the mayor who, in desperation, begged the President and Founder to subject himself to The Circumstance Shakedown for the sake of peace not knowing that he had already done so some days before, but did not think it important to mention this fact to anyone.
The findings of The Circumstance Shakedown, while indeterminate as a whole and false in particulars, were, before being of any use, in need of being gone over scrupulously until anything with even the slightest unsightly stain of the fantastic about it, or which reeked with the sulfuric stench of prevarication was thrown out and spoken ill of with much head shaking, and whatever was left that shined with unearthly luster, and smelled of the sweetest perfume was gathered together to be modeled like unto clay into a replica of the lost document, now called ‘The Three Directives’13.
As amazing as the replica of The Three Directives is the intention of the words remained elusive being that the President and Founder was unable to recall14 any meaning whatsoever, and so, wanting always to understand, he set himself upon the purple couch where, through the practice of The Contemplative Process™, a search for answers was undertaken. What follows are the result of that enterprise.
The meaning of ‘The Three Directives’ when each direction is examined separately could all be, depending on the circumstances, considered as just good advice15. For example: The first, ‘walk quietly’, would be an excellent reminder to those living in a multistory apartment complex or for a person attempting to sneak either away or upon someone. ‘Examine the contents’, which is the second directive, is also sound advice especially if one has just received a package containing a variety of parts needed to be assembled or were perhaps themselves a suspicious wife going through the pockets of her husband’s coat looking for evidence of tomfoolery. Finally, the third, ‘stack them neatly’, could be rightly said by a responsible parent to a small child putting away his or her blocks, or whispered in an angry tone by a bitter underpaid librarian to an untrained volunteer working at the local library as they re shelf returned books. The true mystery of the three directives is in their relation to one another. Are these directives to be taken like a map?16 First, walk quietly, then examine the contents, and afterward stack them neatly? But, walk quietly where? And, the contents of what? Something that can be stacked? “There is” I am afraid, as is said whenever a mystery is examined at the Institute, “no telling”17. Yet, if we are to pursue, as the Institute require us to, each and every line of inquiry, and if we are to believe, as the President and Founder has claimed, that the numbers appearing on the note were there written by someone other than himself, and that his “jotting down”18, as he calls it, of The Three Directives was only as a result of his wishing to fill in the blanks then this would seem to indicate that there was never any meaning intended. Though, as the President and Founder has proposed, the appearance on the surface of absence of meaning can be directly related to his state of absent-mindedness when first he wrote the words. By which is meant the significance of his absent-mindedness is in its complete necessity in the creation of The Three Directives if they are, in at least their outward aspect, to be of no consequence. However, as the President and Founder has pointed out, that whether or not ‘The Three Directives’ have meaning, and regardless of the importance of the meaning if it does have one, or its assumed unimportance if it does not, the writing down of ‘The Three Directives’ upon a notepad, in direct violation of one of the equivocal principals governing conduct within the Institute, has had the direct result of leading us to this very point.
Notes1. You are probably all familiar with the United States, but did you know it is also called, the U.S., the U.S.A., and America, as well being referred to by a few as “the States”? According to ‘Your friends’ at Wikipedia “At 3.79 million square miles (9.83 million km2) and with over 315 million people, the United States is the third- or fourth-largest country by total area, and the third-largest by both land area and population.” That’s right, the third or fourth largest by total area, it is really too close to call at this time. What can be said for certain is that it is a mostly lawless land full of dangerous roving bands of camouflage wearing maniacs determined to destroy civilization as we know it, and that there is a lot of pretty country. 2. According to Wikipedia: “Absent-mindedness is where a person shows inattentive or forgetful behaviour. It can have three different causes: A. a low level of attention (“blanking” or “zoning out”) B. intense attention to a single object of focus (hyperfocus) that makes a person oblivious to events around him or her; or C. unwarranted distraction of attention from the object of focus by irrelevant thoughts or environmental events” However, Wikipedia goes on to reassure us that “Absent-mindedness is not a diagnosed condition but rather a symptom of boredom and sleepiness which people experience in their daily lives” In the case of the President and Founder and ‘The Three Directives’ mystery the first two causes can be ruled out and only the distraction by “irrelevant thoughts” be considered in the third 3. Egregiously is a derivative of Egregious which everyone knows means ‘outstandingly bad’. The archaic meaning of egregious, however, is ‘remarkably good’. 4. The purple couch is famous for being “the seat” of The Contemplative Process™, and you can learn more about it in: ‘To change somewhat the form or qualities’ which can be found on this very website. Fun fact: I am sitting upon the purple couch as I type this! 5. Unlike the former President of the United States (see footnote1.) Ronald Reagan who said “I don`t recall“ or “I can`t remember“ 88 times in his eight hours of testimony during the Iran-Contra hearings, the President and Founder of The Institute for the Study of Slightly Varying Circumstances was able to recall embarrassing and illegal actions he took part in, though later in his attempt to find any meaning in’ The Three Directives’ he doesn’t fare as well. 6. I mention fate in episode one of this series which makes me wonder if it’s not a developing theme with me, and is the reason I make a note of it here. 7.That they are here called “protocols” I believe is somewhat misleading as they have never been written down or agreed upon and like most everything else exist solely in the mind of the President and Founder, but it does sound cool. There are some, among the sandwich eaters, however, who believe that the denial of the protocols existence is only a deception made to hide its true nature, which according to them is a plan for world domination, to which the President and Founder has responded with “If I wanted to I’d have already”. 8. A Postcard of Admonition used to inform someone of their name being entered into the Composition Book of Undesirables, has, until this time, never been sent to anyone, although there are many names listed as being undesirable they were not thought enough of to be told. 9. The Circumstance Shakedown was, it is said, first learned of from Matthäus Böhm, the original caretaker of the nearby orchard, who, having been mortally wounded in the skirmish between the forces of good and evil, wished to pass his knowledge of it on to someone, and as he had no sons of his own, chose to tell the President and Founder. In the aftermath of the skirmish, with his Magical Mountain Cave destroyed and the land of the unfriendly forever adrift in the illimitable ocean of inexplicability, the President and Founder implemented the use of The Circumstance Shakedown for the establishment of order by the creation of tales that would provide an explanation of the events and in turn some comfort for those who needed such. 10. The people’s desire for ‘something to be done’ was unmatched by their ability to come up with exactly what that would be, and furthermore, most of them were unhappy with what (without consulting them) was done as it did not involve a hanging or any really entertaining form of public humiliation. 11. The “SHAKE HIM DOWN!” sign, now on display in The Institute for the Study of Slightly Varying Circumstances Museum of Culture and History, was actually very well done, almost professionally so, which has led many to believe that The President and Founder may have had help from outside sources, which only bolsters another of their beliefs, as is stated in much of their literature, primarily handed out on street corners, but also available on line, that, “He” (the President and Founder) “was up to something from the start.” 12. All of the property damage occurred within the town itself with most being centered on places of business (primarily stores selling electronics) which were vandalized after all the stock was removed by looters. There were one or two cases of hooligans approaching the Institute, but they were turned back by the enormous amount of withering B.B. gun fire they encountered. 13. To this day, though a very handsome reward has been offered for its return, ‘The Three Directives’ original document is still missing. 14. This is the attempt mentioned in footnote 5, and while the President and Founder is embarrassed at his failure to recall he does point out that his average is better than that of the former President, which in his mind shows that he is vastly more qualified than him to hold any position of power. 15. Interestingly the President and Founder for a brief time once offered advice through a daily horoscope which, according to many who read it religiously, was dead on every time. 16. The idea that ‘The Three Directives’ could possibly be a map was taken very seriously by the President and Founder who spent a good deal of time contemplating the possibilities as well as constructing a number of scale models, and consulting various alchemical works such as the one pictured below in which can be seen a clear demarcation of ‘the above’ and ‘the below’ by ‘the between’. 17.The phrase “There’s no telling” meaning ‘it’s impossible to determine’ is a favorite around the Institute and is often used inappropriately by the President and Founder as he is fond of saying it because of his belief that it is capable of “creating transformation” being that it is what he calls “a representation of the divine”. 18. Though he did use the verb,”jotting down”, to describe his writing of ‘The Three Directives’ upon a notepad, the President and Founder has on many occasions publicly expressed his distaste for jotting in general as well as stating that if he was to jot it would be purely accidental, making us wonder why, in the case of ‘The Three Directives’, if he is not lying about his jotting habits, he did so. Investigations, while as yet having turned nothing up, are still ongoing.
You have most likely never considered the importance of having a person, let alone the right person, to represent your positions and recommend them faithfully to the public regardless of their own opinions, but I have. It, as they say, “comes with the territory”, the territory that is my special domain, my particular field of thought, my province of action that I alone must patrol 24 hours a day, 7 days a week leaving me ‘little time and less inclination’™1 to mingle with the gawkers and busybodies who, having miraculously found their way through the dark wood which surrounds the Institute, and past the signs warning trespassers of “withering B.B. gun fire”2, then make camp in my fields, frightening the livestock and generally sullying my pristine private grounds. Some time ago, being in need of someone to mingle amongst the masses, or more specifically, to read, for the purpose of recording, a series of entries from my ‘Red Couch Diaries’3 I placed an advertisement for such a person, and, due to her being the only one qualified as well as the only one to apply, hired Miss Antonietta for the job. Unfortunately, Miss Antonietta, while taking her daily constitutional within the nearby orchard4, met a man who, through the ancient art of trickery, did lead her astray so completely that she did, during the hours of darkness, disappear, never to be heard from again. This, I assure you, was a devastating blow, resulting in the termination of ‘The Red Couch Diaries’ project as well as leaving me to only have myself as an audience, and a very poor audience at that, as I quickly grew tired of my shenanigans, which in turn lead to an almost complete ban on all forms of the audible human voice within the Institute. Those were sad days. Endlessly I searched the local big box stores for a replacement among the sales staff, watching them folding items of clothing discarded by shoppers, observing their comings and goings from the windowless break rooms, and, if they showed even the slightest potential, following them to their cars after work in order to approach them with my offer5. This did not go well, and soon I gave up all hope of ever finding a new spokesmistress6.
Grief stricken over Antonietta’s disappearance and without hope of ever replacing her I retreated into my private residence rarely leaving for weeks at a time as I obsessively played certain songs over and over again upon my portable record player believing a message was there waiting to be found between the lines1. After countless months of fruitless listening I, upon looking through the growing pile of unopened mail, discovered a letter from an acquaintance living in the city of San Fransisco. Dated some months before, his letter was essentially an invitation to visit him and his wife in the city as they were in possession of a spare apartment within their building and would gladly allow me the use of it in exchange for my company. Having not entered the state in which San Fransisco is located for more than ten years2 I immediately responded to the letter writing that the invitation was very kind and that they could expect to see me during the upcoming Christmas holidays as I began what was to be my California sojourn.
Once settled into my comfortable lodgings I was free to wander the city at will, and that I did, from one end to the other exploring its every street, and rediscovering all of its wonderful mysteries. On one of my excursions in an area of the city known as North Beach3 I, having drank a large cup of coffee, was in need of the facilities required for my relief, and, as this is no small task to accomplish on the streets of San Fransisco I soon became quite uncomfortable and more that a little anxious.
Finally, after resolving myself to purchasing another cup of coffee only for the purpose of using the restroom, I entered a small cafe on Columbus avenue not far from Big Al’s4, one of my favorite haunts, but unfortunately closed at the time. The restroom located behind the cafe and up a small flight of stairs was unsurprisingly occupied,and so, while waiting I amused myself by striking various poses in front of an extremely large mirror hanging on on one of the walls. While in a pose that has long been in my repertoire which I call ‘the concerned look’ I noticed a letter lying on the floor under a nearby window. Being naturally nosy, and ready at all times to observe trifles I picked up the letter so to examine it more closely. On doing this I was shocked, truly electrified, as if by some cosmic current5 , denied by science to exist, but there nevertheless running through all of humanity for purposes we can scarcely guess. The name on the envelope read, Svetlana Trumm, and though I did not know her I knew she was to be the new spokesmistress for The Institute for the Study of Slightly Varying Circumstances.
Half crazed by this revelation from circumstance, but not so crazed as to expose myself to charges of mail theft1, I took a picture of Svetlana Trumm’s address as it appeared on the envelope and set out to inform her of her new position as official spokesmistress. Oh, the joy that coursed through my veins, the fantasies of returned glory that ran through my brain, and the strain of running up the steep hills to be found everywhere in that city; others on the street, if there were any2, were invisible to me, I saw nothing, but only heard myself repeating again and again her name, Svetlana Trumm, Svetlana Trumm, Svetlana Trumm, spokesmistress for the Institute for the Study of Slightly Varying Circumstances! Out of breath, sweating profusely and dizzy I arrived in front of the home of Svetlana Trumm, whereupon, reaching my arms into the air and calling out her name as loudly as I could, I collapsed upon the sidewalk3.
The collapsing on the sidewalk, I can admit now, was simply a ruse meant to lure Ms. Trumm, who shortly before I called her name I saw gazing out from a second story window, to the street below where I could explain to her what fate had in store4. However, Ms. Trumm did not come to my aid, instead she stood in the window until I, realizing that she had no desire to involve herself with a strange man sprawled out in front of her home, rose to my feet and made my way to the front door. First, I knocked, then, I knocked once more, and then again I knocked quite loudly, but no answer came. Then, noticing a button, which I assumed was connected to a doorbell, I pressed it over and over, until finally the door swung open and I, for the first time, saw, in all her glory, Svetlana Trumm.
Now, I am sure you are wondering, especially with your knowledge of my stalking sales ladies in the parking lots of big box stores, and the creepy feeling that it no doubt causes you to have, why Svetlana Trumm would answer her door instead of calling the police around to give me a well deserved clubbing1. The reason is the cosmic current, the same cosmic current I experienced when I read her name upon the letter, the same cosmic current, as I have already explained, which runs through all of humanity. She was a little uneasy, I will grant you that, but if it was from fear, it was the fear of the connection she felt with me, and, though she was not yet aware of it, with The Institute for the Study of Slightly Varying Circumstances. Eternities passed in worlds unseen by man2 as we stood in her doorway unsure of words to say, unsure of what action to take. Then, abruptly, the spell was broken by the sound, not at all uncommon in the city, of a man arguing very angrily with himself on the other side of the street, and, perhaps afraid this man may wish to engage us in his discussion3 , we both stepped quickly into her front hall as she closed the door behind us. Inside Svetlana’s home I can only describe as like fabled Elysium, a place beyond all imagining so perfect was it, yet, though I could live there a thousand years, and she as well, we knew that something even higher was calling us. Days did pass without us leaving there wherein we spent every minute of every hour discussing the future which lay before us while listening to records4 and laughing at the messages we heard.
After discussing all of the various possibilities that may present themselves in the course of time as well as working out certain contractual difficulties, Svetlana and I came to the decision that she would keep her home in San Fransisco as a kind of Mission for bringing the Institute for the Study of Slightly Varying Circumstances to the barbaric inhabitants of the United States, and that we will, of course, travel back and forth as needed; both of us looking forward with much excitement to any and all projects we may undertake together.
Introduction1. The earliest occurrence of “little time and less inclination” I could find was “… and as there is little time, so there is generally less inclination, to call upon the Lord” on page 35 of ‘The holy Bible, with a comm. and critical notes by A. Clarke’ 1836. Its significance in relation to the ‘Little time and less inclination’™ of ‘The Contemplative Process’™ is not fully understood at this time, but will, “Lord willing and the creek don’t rise”, surely be figured out in the future.
Chapter One1. I mostly arrived at the idea that there would be something to be found between the lines from listening to the Peter,Paul and Mary song ‘I Dig Rock and Roll Music’ which contains the following: “I dig Rock and Roll music
Chapter Two1. From what I can gather mail theft is mostly conducted by Meth addicts who want to steal your identity! 2. There were, of course, other people on the street, lots of them, I just said “if there were any” in order to suggest to the reader how focused I was upon finding Svetlana Trumm, which I was, I really wasn’t thinking of much else, not even using the restroom, which I had already done, but did not mention in the narrative above seeing no reason for doing so. 3. This can be a most unpleasant experience as the sidewalks in San Fransisco are absolutely filthy, and while I am only a mild hypochondriac my time with Svetlana in her home was troubled by my worry that I may have caught some horrible disease. 4. I, as I am sure you realize, did not actually have any idea whatsoever about what fate had in store, and am actually unconvinced that it exists anywhere except for in the mind of man, and as Cornelius himself quoted from The Sacred Scrolls “Beware the beast Man, for he is the Devil’s pawn. Alone among God’s primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother’s land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him; drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of death.“
Chapter Three1. According to ‘your best source for knowledge’ Wikipedia “Police forces and their predecessors have traditionally favored the use, whenever possible,” ( me in front of Svetlana Trumm’s house being a perfect opportunity) “of less-lethal weapons than guns or blades to impose public order or to subdue and arrest law-violators.” And then there’s this which has nothing to do really with the police giving me a good clubbing but is pretty cool anyway “In addition, Shaolin monks and members of other religious orders around the world have employed cudgels from time to time as defensive weapons.” I have no memory of Kwai Chang Caine ever using a cudgel, but I guess he did have that flute. 2. You may be thinking “worlds unseen by man” is a bunch of hogwash, but Bob Dylan himself mentioned the existence of these worlds when he said “On this earth and in the world we can’t see” So you know there’s got to be something to it. 3. For me personally the fear was extreme due to me thinking him familiar to me, perhaps having been a student at one of my Contemplative Process™ seminars. 4. Ms. Trumm has an extensive collection of records spanning a great many musical genres and is quite the audiophile, having each room of her home equipped with its own turntable and other accoutrements needed for hi-fi enjoyment.
ST: What was the inspiration behind making a series of short films about a school bus?
FM: Actually there’s only one film so far. I do intend to make more though, sometime, in the near future, maybe. The inspiration was the proximity. The bus passes very close by my private residence making filming it extremely convenient for me.
ST: Did you ride a school bus as a child?
FM: I did.
ST: Do you think the experience has affected the way you’ve made the films, or I guess I should say, film?
FM: I hadn’t thought of it. No, I don’t think so. Though maybe one of the films, that I will probably be making in the future, could have the song ‘Jesus Loves Me This I Know’ in it which all the children would enthusiastically sing almost daily on the bus I rode to school.
ST: That would be wonderful, all your films are absolutely wonderful!
FM: Thank you.