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Dylan’s Folk Rap

May 21, 2015

I love the mix of metaphor and straight forward language Bob Dylan uses in this song. The music is simple and the words work like sung poetry. Some people like his harmonica playing too. On that I remain neutral. How do you hold on to your humanity and integrity in a world were you are surrounded by systemic cultural institutions that work so hard to take these away? We are all part of the problem and the solution in our actions and interactions. As we move through our lives we choose to accept things as they have been or react to situations as a member of a group trying to stay in that safe harbor no matter how much we have to distort our point of view to fit in. We need to step back stage, out of that safety zone, and take a good look around at who is pulling the strings and who is running the show. And like Dylan, maybe put it in a song and sing it in your best voice even though you can’t hit all the notes. But, as far as I’m concerned you can leave out the harmonica, or not. Its all good. But whatever you do, like Dylan, you have to lay it out there and own it.

Its Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)

“Darkness at the break of noon
Shadows even the silver spoon
The handmade blade, the child’s balloon
Eclipses both the sun and moon
To understand you know too soon
There is no sense in trying

As pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
Suicide remarks are torn
From the fool’s gold mouthpiece the hollow horn
Plays wasted words, proves to warn
That he not busy being born is busy dying

Temptation’s page flies out the door
You follow, find yourself at war
Watch waterfalls of pity roar
You feel to moan but unlike before
You discover that you’d just be one more
Person crying

So don’t fear if you hear
A foreign sound to your ear
It’s alright, Ma, I’m only sighing

As some warn victory, some downfall
Private reasons great or small
Can be seen in the eyes of those that call
To make all that should be killed to crawl
While others say don’t hate nothing at all
Except hatred

Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their mark
Make everything from toy guns that spark
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It’s easy to see without looking too far
That not much is really sacred

While preachers preach of evil fates
Teachers teach that knowledge waits
Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
Goodness hides behind its gates
But even the president of the United States
Sometimes must have to stand naked

An’ though the rules of the road have been lodged
It’s only people’s games that you’ve got to dodge
And it’s alright, Ma, I can make it

Advertising signs they con
You into thinking you’re the one
That can do what’s never been done
That can win what’s never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you

You lose yourself, you reappear
You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
Alone you stand with nobody near
When a trembling distant voice, unclear
Startles your sleeping ears to hear
That somebody thinks they really found you

A question in your eyes is lit
Yet you know there is no answer fit
To satisfy, insure you not to quit
To keep it in your mind and not forget
That it is not he or she or them or it
That you belong to

Although the masters make the rules
For the wise men and the fools
I got nothing, Ma, to live up to

For them that must bow down to authority
That they do not respect in any degree
Who despise their jobs, their destinies
Speak jealously of them that are free
Cultivate their flowers to be
Nothing more than something they invest in

While some on principles baptized
To strict party platform ties
Social clubs in drag disguise
Outsiders they can freely criticize
Tell nothing except who to idolize
And then say God bless him

While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society’s pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he’s in

But I mean no harm nor put fault
On anyone living in a vault
But it’s alright, Ma, if I can’t please him

Old lady judges watch people in pairs
Limited in sex, they dare
To tell fake morals, insult and stare
While money doesn’t talk, it swears
Obscenity, who really cares
Propaganda, all is phony

While them that defend what they cannot see
With a killer’s pride, security
It blows the minds most bitterly
For them that think death’s honesty
Won’t fall upon them naturally
Life sometimes must get lonely

My eyes collide head-on with stuffed
Graveyards, false goals (gods), I scuff
At pettiness which plays so rough
Walk upside-down inside handcuffs
Kick my legs to crash it off
Say okay, I have had enough, what else can you show me?

And if my thought-dreams could be seen
They’d probably put my head in a guillotine
But it’s alright, Ma, it’s life, and life only”

More Spring Woods Tangled in Orange Flower Vines

May 17, 2015








These flowering vines wove in out, tangling a long stretch of the underbrush with fiery clumps here and there all buzzing with bumble bees that would not sit for my slow camera.


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Notes from April

May 16, 2015

Through me life,

I in currents

Of wind and water

Sometimes submerged

Settling into patterns

Of searching

Repeating steps


Through forest into suburbs

At the park on High street,

Dazed students dapple the lawn,

Crows mingle, snatch tidbits

With glittering miser’s eye launch

Into the just greening trees.


All these human lives keeping

Track of minutes, repetitions,

Fish caught,

inches, shot gun gauge 10 [ten]

the weight of ink added to the weight of paper.

A Walk in Spring Woods

May 10, 2015

001 002 003 004 005


The Importance of A Committed Life: Hubert Dreyfus Talks About Teaching and Learning and the Challenges of Living with 21st Century Technology.

May 9, 2015


Hubert Dreyfus makes an excellent case for learning through experience and gives some compelling reasons why computers can never replicate human intelligence. In less than 30 minutes, he gave me a lot of ideas to digest as a teacher and human being living with technology that affects every aspect of my life. This is the question I come away with: How can we use technology to create new worlds that invite everyone to form committed lives?

Originally posted on synthetic zero:

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May 5, 2015

Thanks to a Facebook friend I was introduced to this band, DakhaBrakha. They are a self-described Ukrainian folk punk band. There music is actually all over the place as far as genres go. I love their energy and obvious joy in making music that lives in the open range roaming freely.

My Mind Will Never Grow Up Completely: Models and Maps that Move

May 3, 2015

I like to think that I have changed a lot over the many years of my life, but I am still fascinated by similar things. I have always liked complex models. When I lived in California and my children were homeschooling, we would take them to interesting places like the Exploratorium in San Francisco, which is so full of fascinating models and experiences it is a bit overwhelming and exhausting. On the opposite end of spectrum was an airplane hanger sized of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, a single purpose venue, which was so much more interesting for me than for the kids who were almost immediately bored. But I know I would have been fascinated by this three dimensional moving map when I was ten. My interest has always been drawn to representations of the flow of life, fluids, people, and objects and maps which represent actual or imagined places. Part of the reason I have not done much modeling is that I haven’t the dexterity or patience to put things together so that they will work in the way I want them to. So I am always drawn to actual working models of complex systems. They fire my imagination.

 When I was a young child growing up in Sacramento, CA, my father worked on the sixth floor of the DMV building which overlooked the huge freeway interchange of I 50, I 80, and I 99. The freeways were elevated over the tree lined grid of downtown Sacramento streets with cars moving over and under at all different speeds and destinations some possibly international or thousands of miles east maybe even ending at the Atlantic ocean. From the sixth floor these cars and moving people looked like a model of a city to me, and I thought about how you could build a model with small mechanical vehicles and trains and people, and program it with some random movement generators that had some algorithms that would govern the movements. You could set this model in motion and it would be fascinating to watch and record the different patterns that occurred. Of course, as a child, I had no words like algorithm or program to label the parts of my concept. For me, the ideas were somewhere between imagination and the world I could see. I had no way to make what I imagined at the time. My father was working on computers using tape drives and punch cards which took up huge rooms in the basement of the building. I would not even work on a computer until I got a Commodore 64 15 years later to help me with word processing for college.

 The way I saw the city from my father’s office was the way my mind moved in the world by mapping out the landscape emotional and physical. I suspect it is also why I am such a slow processor in real time situations, always drawing maps of conversations and connections, interactions, always reconsidering routes and possible outcomes. I have at least come to a place in my life where I can just relax and trust that I will be ok if I just act with empathy and kindness as I go through my day. So in that way I have been able to become more able to be more present, but I am still more comfortable when I can have time to think things through a little. I am basically the same person as ten year old me, but more balanced and thoughtful about my effect on other people. I still have an imagination that is enraptured by toys and intricate models. I still lack the skill or patience to bring my conceptions to life.

When I stumbled on this artist’s working model of a city, my brain lit up with the feelings of a ten year old boy trying to fit all the complexities of mobile urban life into a simple framework that I could play with. In many ways I still have a lot in common with that little boy looking out over the city, overwhelmed by the complicated interweaving of lives and objects in motion. I will probably never see this exhibit in motion but I know if I get to Los Angeles in the next year this is one place I will be going.


Chris Burden’s Metropolis II is an intense kinetic sculpture, modeled after a fast paced, frenetic modern city. Steel beams form an eclectic grid interwoven with an elaborate system of 18 roadways, including one six lane freeway, and HO scale train tracks. Miniature cars speed through the city at 240 scale miles per hour; every hour, the equivalent of approximately 100,000 cars circulate through the dense network of buildings. According to Burden, “The noise, the continuous flow of the trains, and the speeding toy cars produce in the viewer the stress of living in a dynamic, active and bustling 21st century city.”

See Metropolis II in action (no reservation required): at 

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
5905 Wilshire Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90036

11:30–12:30 pm; 1:30–2:30 pm; 3:30–4:30 pm; 5:30–6:30 pm
Saturdays & Sundays
10:30 am–11:30 am; 12:30–1:30 pm; 2:30–3:30 pm; 4:30–5:30 pm

Target Free Holiday Mondays

January 19, February 16,  and May 25, 2015
11:30–12:30 pm; 1:30–2:30 pm; 3:30–4:30 pm


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