All photos taken with an iPhone 7, most in the parking lot of a local Winn-Dixie supermarket. Wherever possible, identifying details of the license plates have been obscured; otherwise, these are the digital equivalents of box-camera negatives, and should be treated as such: nothing fancy! Enjoy, and ponder what it all means when we roll the bones!
“If I wanted to hear from an asshole, I’d fart.” Or you just might stay where you are and await the scream of tortured metal…
Conflicting opinions… What would John do?
And if you don’t know who Bob Dylan is, or what he was, or represented to Baby Boomers, don’t ask your folks, ask your grandparents… but only if they are, like, cool! You know, they do yoga, smoke weed, spout poems that don’t rhyme and there’s a gleam in their eye when they reminisce about ‘shroom hunting in the cow pastures just outside Sarasota in the early 1970’s?
Yeah, them. Ask them who Bob Dylan was, and why his anthem “Like a Rolling Stone” (sorry, stoners, this has nothing to do with the Stones) is quite possibly the greatest rock song ever written: because it embodies the sense of loss my generation suffers from, not only the loss of our brothers in the meat grinder of Vietnam, but the sense of loss of control over our own lives.
PORT CHARLOTTE, FL. – It was a Saturday morning, sunny and quiet, and Florida writer Malcolm J. Brenner was feeling pretty good for a change. The crippling combo of vertigo and chronic fatigue, which had weighed on him for years, weren’t bothering him much, and the many superficial scars from Perugia nodularis, a weird ingrown-hair condition created by inherited psoriasis, were somehow healing. All in all, the morning was ripe with favorable omens, and Brenner felt an uncommon sensation of hope wash over his thin, 5′ 9″ frame.
Grasping the blue, artificial fabric leash attached to the muzzle on his mostly-black-Labrador bitch Epic’s snout tightly in his left hand, Brenner stood in his doorway and took stock of the situation. For their morning walk, the first of the day, the dog and her master turned right at the end of his driveway and followed the sidewalk clockwise around the block on which Brenner’s unassuming but totally adequate yellow General Construction house, a remnant of the 1959 Florida housing boom, stood.
The driveway was getting rather pitted, Brenner noted, and he thought of calling an asphalt contractor for a bid. But that would have to wait until he replaced the decorative wooden post that the bitch had pulled down. Epic had run out her cable barking at a neighbor and his dog walking by, and the cable was connected to the post, which fell down. (“If you push something hard enough, it will fall over.” – Fudd’s First Law.) Fortunately, it wasn’t a load-bearing structural member for the carport, and the roof of the structure remained intact, somewhat to Brenner’s surprise. It had been a few days since the incident, and he counted his blessings.
Suddenly, a loud rustling caught Brenner’s ear, coming from a native cabbage palm to his right. The tree stood adjacent to his lot, at the corner of his neighbor’s property, a nice normal couple named Willy and Rachel, and their several kids. Brenner glanced up, and could see the green, leafy fronds of the palm’s crown in violent motion. Some kind of action was going on inside, something not the common squabbling of birds, as Brenner had seen many times before. Something possibly… BIG.
Taking a moment to reflect on what could be causing the rustling, Brenner mused aloud, to his dog in particular, “I bet that’s a squirrel, Epic, the birds don’t make that much noise!” And then, throwing caution to the four winds, the couple set out on their morning circumambulation… the path taking them right under the suspect tree.
“We had only gone two steps, and then it struck me,” Brenner recounted, sweat beading his 69-year-old brow. “I mean, it didn’t really strike me, or the dog, but it just barely missed us! And it didn’t seem to jump from branch to branch and miss, like they sometimes do, it just fell straight down and landed right in front of us, startling me and bringing Epic to a sudden halt.”
Something small, gray, and fuzzy. Something that barely avoided the stony concrete sidewalk an inch away in its rapid descent, something that landed with a loud THUD! in the soft sand that passes for soil in Florida, leaving a small crater, which Brenner surveyed later.
Not a coconut; cabbage palms don’t grow them. Not a dead bird, or a broken branch, or a cluster of palm berries, like he might have expected, but… a squirrel!
Yes, a ferocious, wild, undomesticated creature now lay before them on its stomach, immobile. Only the Fates knew if it was dead or alive… and capable of attack at any moment!
There was a millisecond of stunned silence. Even Epic, who, being a dog, as the late 19th Century English adventurer Rudyard Kipling pointed out in his classic childhood espionage novel Kim, could fall asleep in the road and wake up instantly just as the wheel of an approaching wagon was about to crush her, was struck dumb by the rodent’s sudden and unexpected, calamitous descent from the vegetative organism, and stood unmoving, too startled by the sudden spectacle to even bark, or whimper helplessly.
“The English have a word for it,” Brenner later recounted breathlessly in the still, humid air, “what is it, Godspell? No, that was a Broadway Jesus musical back in the Seventies. It must be something else… wait… damn it, it’s on the tip of my… oh yeah! Gobsmacked! That’s how Epic and I both felt, utterly gobsmacked by this damn kamikaze rodent plunging towards the Earth and barely missing us! Another two feet and it might have landed on my head, giving me a new, Donald T***p-style hairpiece for free, and possibly knocking me out, too!”
Epic had no comment on the situation, but her soft brown canine eyes betrayed her stress, even hours later.
But before either dog or man could so much as bat a lash, the rogue rodent recovered its senses, gathered its wits and disappeared in a blur of gray under Willy’s white Toyota truck with a camper shell on its back, the good strong fiberglass ones, not the cheap, thin aluminum ones. And then it was gone, gone for good, for better or for worse.
Brenner shook his head, recalling the rampant craziness of the moment.
“I seen them varmints jump before, and a-yup, they’re pretty good at making leaps even a cat would think twice about, and grabbing a branch skinnier than an anorexic model with bulimia, and then they’ll just skitter right on up that tree and out of sight,” Brenner recalled, “but this one was just plain GONE, man! I mean, ZOOM, gone, down on the ground right from under our noses, and that was it. Over and done with. Gone.”
His senses reeling, his mind churning, Brenner and Epic nevertheless managed to complete their morning walk without further incident. But hours later, the ramifications of the event still troubled him.
“That squirrel had no business being in that tree,” he opined. “I mean, I know they live in trees and all, but that tree… that was a bird tree, maybe even a bat tree, you know, a tree for flying things, and squirrels… they definitely do not fly! I seen ’em, they fall down just like you or me, and land with a thud. So that squirrel musta been up to some mischief there, maybe looking for his breakfast eggs or some hatchlings in a bird’s nest. Yeah, they’re supposed to eat nuts and stuff, and they look all cute and cuddly, but they’ll fool ya and chow down on some baby birds if they can get ’em! Squirrels don’t live on nuts alone!”
Two days later, the incident still left Brenner shaken, and shaking his head in disbelief.
“This world we-all are living in, what’s it coming to when a man, standing on his own property, walking his own dog on his own stretch of sidewalk, has to fear the fall of a robber squirrel from a tree? It could have hurt me, wounded me, or even crushed me, if it was an elephant and not a squirrel, and Epic let it escape without an apology, or even so much as a howdy-do!
“It ain’t natural! Ain’t nothin’ natural left except Dr. Bronner’s Soap, and I hear they make that from mary-jawanna these days. What’s the world coming to? It coulda been a burning jetliner, or a falling satellite, or even an big ol’ asteroid, roaring down to extinguish human civilization forever! But a squirrel…?”
He left the portentous words hanging heavy in the dank, thick air, and poured himself another drink. Epic lapped water nervously from a bowl on the floor.
The proper authorities have been notified, and are taking action to prevent squirrel falls from interfering with the day-to-day life, work and recreation of other Charlotte County residents. Reportedly, they are installing Chinese-made falling squirrel catchers, like a wide, plastic ring, around the trunks of every tree in the county. Further down the road, they are considering the cost and effectiveness of requiring arboreal squirrels to wear mini-parachutes when tree borne. But the shock stays with the victim.
“I can’t get over it, and neither can my dog,” Brenner concluded. “She ain’t been the same since that… danged thing dang near fell on us! She’s been whimpering and howling and keeps looking up tree trunks, like she expects a danged cheetah or something to jump down and rip her up! I don’t know what’s coming next, and I can’t eat nor sleep at night for worrying, and I can barely pour a drink of tequila to calm my nerves. It’s a regular calamity, I tell ya. A regular calamity!”
Among local mammalogists, exactly what the squirrel was doing in the tree that morning remains a matter of intense speculation. Was it gathering an innocent, vegan breakfast of palm berries, or were its furry jaws slavering in anticipation of a bloody meal of baby birds? Or maybe even something unthinkable, unguessable, unimaginable, something that only a hunger-crazed rodent would contemplate?
Only the squirrel knows for sure… and he or she isn’t talking.
Editor’s Note: John, what are you trying to do to me? I need more copy on this! You’ve given me 6 paltry inches, and we’ve got a hole the size of Alaska on page 3 because Numbnutz pulled their ad over the dolphin sex story on page 4, and they are now threatening to cancel their whole year-long contract with us! I know this is pretty thin, but can you somehow stretch it to 30 or even 40 column inches? Come on, guy, pad it out a little like you did with that story about the overweight chick in Spandex. I know you can do it by deadline, just give it the old college try, and for once get it in on time! My wife is threatening to leave me and take the kids if I don’t make it home in time for supper tonight! Mama Mia! — Ralph
The year, 1969, and I was a senior at Riverview High School in Sarasota, Florida. I had a small circle of friends and acquaintances, oddball, intellectual types like myself, and one of them was into shortwave radio.
His last name was Drescher, and that’s what we called him, because he wasn’t fond of his first name, but what it was I forget. It doesn’t matter, what matters is that, one night when the etheric circuits were properly aligned, Drescher found himself communicating with another ham radio operator in China, which in those unenlightened was called “Red China” to distinguish it from the fortress island of Taiwan, 1,307 miles (2.103 km) off the eastern coast, held by rebel Gen. Chang Kai-Chek, one of the most inept military leaders of the 20th Century, against the forces of the Red Army led by Communist Party Chairman Mao Tse-Dong, who enforced a Spartan lifestyle on his billion or so “comrades” with an iron fist in a steel glove.
Now that you understand a little of what this part of the Cold War was about, imagine Drescher, alone one night, picking up a shortwave operator who speaks English in China! What are the odds? What are the odds that he was talking with a Communist Party member? Remember, in what the West calls a Communist society (actually an atheist cult of totalitarian hero-worship), The Government owns everything, including your ass, and resources are allocated according to the unalterable decisions of The Party, who operate in the best interests of The People, which, for some reason, never includes you. So an individual owning something as revolutionary as a short wave radio was a crime, because anything that revolutionary could also become an equally effective weapon in counter-revolutionary hands!
It was the custom of international short wave operators at that time, and may still be today, to exchange cards with each other, documenting the date, time, frequency and location of the operator they had contacted, and having supplied this information, Drescher one day came to school and astonished all of us with his readings from a copy of The Sayings of Chairman Mao, the sacred text of the Red Chinese masses!
It was a fat book, with large type of an odd font, and rather small, with a slick, plastic over then unknown in the West, undoubtedly so it would be more durable in the hovels of the peasants who pored over this manual of Party orthodoxy. It would either have made George Orwell proud, or very, very afraid. The impression was of something foreign trying to pass for ordinary, except for that glaring red cover. You couldn’t avoid that, any more than you could avoid the first stanza of the Red Chinese national anthem, The East is Red, broadcast by the first Chinese satellite to orbit the Earth, after every 30-second data dump. The East is Red, over and over and over again ad infinitum, until the damn thing’s orbit decayed and it incinerated itself in the atmosphere as it tumbled down from the skies, years later.
I think hearing that piece of music repeated so often must have driven some Chinese scientists nuts, but that’s the price you pay for choosing to be born into a closed, totalitarian society run by a sociopathic mass murderer. It does have its price! We can honor them without knowing their names.
The Red Book made Drescher an instant celebrity not only among our group, but all the students at school, and was written up in the local papers. I’m sure his story even made the AP wire. I don’t know about the others, but I felt rather proud of Drescher for having taken this step toward international peace, trust and reconciliation. Among Drescher’s skills was he also played ping-pong, and this flowered into the Era of Ping-Pong Diplomacy. Last I heard, Drescher had been invited to Red China to participate in some kind of international ping-pong tourney against other players from Latvia, Tibet, Albania, Slovenia and Brooklyn, N.Y. I don’t know how he did, because we all went to different colleges and I never heard from him again.
What matters, and has stayed with me all these years, is some of those sayings. Profound, but profoundly cynical and brutal, too.
• Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.
• Women hold up half the sky.
• The guerrilla must move among the people as a fish swims in the sea.
And so on. It is thus in remembrance of Drescher and his Little Red Book that I present the following sayings, pieces of wisdom and random scraps of data, most of them by myself but some by others (credited, where known), for your amusement, contemplation and pondering. Let a hundred flowers bloom, and we’ll all have hay fever! Bring on the Revolution, and up against the wall, motherfuckers! Pigasus for President, Yipee! — Chairman Malcolm
If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the thermonuclear reactor. – Chairman Malcolm
What does not kill me, gives me post traumatic stress disorder. – Fred-Rick Neat O’Shea, Irish-German philosopher & drunkard
I love NASA, but they have the ability to sometimes transform the ethereal into the mundane.– Michael Collins, Apollo astronaut.
If you happen to be smoking a joint with a fire-breathing dragon, remember not to ask it for a light. – Toasty the Bear
If you invite a porcupine to a balloon party, do not be surprised when it blows up in your face. – Chairman Malcolm
He who lives by the reality show, dies when his ratings plummet. – Chairman Malcolm
She had no time for horses, she was just too busy with all those men! – Lucy Worsley, English historian, on the sex life of Catherine the Great, Czarina of all the Russias and rumored zoophile (another Commie lie, turns out)
If we as a species are to be judged by superior beings on the basis of “Tiger King,” then we are most assuredly fucked. – Chairman Malcolm
You cannot kill a lie with another lie, you can only kill a lie with the unvarnished truth. But it should be delivered as gently as possible, because nobody likes to realize they have been stupid enough to believe a lie. – Chairman Malcolm
If you can handle it with Kubrick, then you can handle anything, because he’s 44 times as difficult as anybody else. – Anton Furst, production designer on Stanley Kubrick’s Vietnam movie Full Metal Jacket.
“Doing the right thing” is, in the short run, often unprofitable. But in the long run, it is inevitable. – Chairman Malcolm
The last four years have proved that ignorance is less blissful than advertised. – Stephen Colbert, host of The Late Show, in late 2020
It was a very attractive location on the Baltic Sea. This was a dream holiday destination for people like myself, back in the ’30s. I soon sensed that the facility was consciously designed as a kind of ghetto for scientists. – Ruth Kraft, rocket scientist, on Peenemünde, the German Army rocketry works, before World War 2
Evangelizing is just advertising for a belief set rather than a product or service. – Chairman Malcolm
Any human, dropped naked five miles from shore, immediately loses at least 100 I.Q. points no matter how smart they were when dry. – Dripper the dolphin
I’d rather die a big death than live a small life! – Elfo the elf in Matt Groening’s animated series Netflix series Disenchanted
I always wanted to be in entertainment… you know, in Hell I was a communications major! – Luci the demon in Disenchanted
Seems like whenever people get in a hole, they get jealous of dogs. – Paul Sackler, screenwriter of Fear and Desire, Stanley Kubrick’s first low-budget film
What made me an American radical? History, unvarnished history! – Chairman Malcolm
To live a long and happy life, absorb this fact: Every day, all over the world, people die horrible, unnecessary, agonizing deaths. Try to avoid being one of them. – Chairman Malcolm
That concludes today’s study lesson, comrades! Remember, you will be tested on it! Now return to your jobs in the People’s Manure Factory, and long live Chairman Malcolm a zillion billion years, unless it gets boring! Then, all bets are off.
And I mean that not in the sense of “gang,” as in The Warriors, but more the way it addressed all the readership of MAD Magazine, the coolest comic of the 1950’s and the hippest of the 1960’s long before the Beatles toured American, without regard to race, sex, gender, ethnicity, nationality, or whether you were the White Spy or the Black one — that kind a gang, a communal, non-violent cavalcade of young minds all impressed by Mad’s humor and savvy insights into the materialistic, middle-class world of suburban America, exposing things like the KKK and sexism long before it was done in the popular media — yes, that kind of gang, dear reader, one that requires no iniatory offering or ritual, no scarification, no teardrop tattoo under the left eye, and let’s not go any further than that —
Having thus allayed the “gang” issue, we turn now to the central theme of this post, which is that I am one again having a
SCREAMING BIG SALE ON eBooks AT SMASHWORDS!
One Week Only, March 3-7, get your coupon codes here:
Wet Goddess, XG95GOrgone Box, PT69X
If you are overseas, you are advised to take advantage of this to avoid excessive shipping charges on my books, which weigh about 1 lb. (0.45 kg.) and cost to ship anywhere from somewhat less than the retail price of the book ($18.95 + tax where applicable) to about 60% more for distant places like Australia and New Zealand (although, as regular readers of this blog know, I have lost all respect for the customs, laws and regulatory bodies of that puritanical little nation since my struggle with a radio station down there, and isn’t simply owning a copy of Wet Goddess punishable by being nibbled to death by sheep?).
While applicable state & local taxes will still apply, it will be on a price that is 25% off retail in the case of the ever-popular non-fiction novel Wet Goddess: Recollections of a Dolphin Lover, and 50% off my childhood memoir, Growing Up in the Orgone Box: Secrets of a Reichian Childhood.
Both ebooks retain all the content and most of the photos of the original trade paperback, as allowed for by layout.
What’s that, you ask? Why is Orgone Box cheaper? Well, for one thing, it didn’t take me 37 linear years of my life, or 24 work years if you count the 13 when I put it aside and didn’t work on it at all, to write. A couple of years after I finished the dolphin novel, the determination to write this factual book, and document the evil a pedophile child psychiatrist brought to me and hundreds of other innocents and their families in the name of practicing Wilhelm Reich’s bogus “orgone therapy,” became overwhelming. Although I had planned to do another project at the time, I put it aside and began to obsessively gather the details needed to write about my twisted childhood in greater depth, while at the same time being utterly true to my own memories.
Another reason is it’s not currently available in trade paperback or any other printed or audible form, this is the only way you can acquire it, and it hasn’t sold nearly was well as the dolphin book, which is going on 2,100 copies, or the UFO book, maybe 200. Many copies of the original, and only, printing of 50 books, went to my friends and family. While I would like to reprint it in trade paperback, don’t hold your breath, because only 3 months after I paid my printer for 50 copies of WG, they have nearly all sold! In February, yet, the driest of dry months!
To be fair to Reich’s sometimes-reputation as a (self-proclaimed) “great man,” depending on whom you ask, the book also features a short introduction by my brother Hugh R. Brenner, RN and a skilled psychiatric nurse, who practices Reich’s body therapy without all the malignancy and rampant sexual abuse of this other Reichian’s sessions. Hugh learned orgonomy from Dr. Morton Herskowitz, D.O., who represented the left wing of Reich’s students, having been the last one to accepted by Reich for training. My years-long therapy with him is also discussed in Orgone Box. Unlike the other, he did me no harm, but in all that time, he never guessed or figured out that the other so-called Reichian (I won’t humanize him by calling him out) had molested me! Instead, he attributed all the quirks of my wounded psyche to my narcississtic mother, and there was precious little he could do about her except try to strengthen my self-esteem to resist her.
NOTE: You will have to manually set your filter to Allow All Erotica, including taboo topics, to be able to locate Wet Goddess. Apparently having loving sex with a bottlenose dolphin is taboo, but non-consensual oral sex with innocent 5-year-olds is not! I just wish there was some kind of ethical consistency here, but Smashwords sometimes has to do what the the insurance companies tell them to, just like the rest of us bozos.
And that’s all I really have to say! You who snoozes, loses, take advantage of this offer to read my books if you live outside the U.S.A.!
Gee, I hear that Rush Limbaugh is dead of lung cancer…
…couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy!
“What’s wrong with America today? Well, folks, that’s easy, I can tell you in one word. I’ll spell it out for you, in case you had a public education:
Yes, those Commie-mollycoddling, lying, cheating, left-wing Maoist-Lenninist leaning, Clinton-loving, Negro-embracing, Hillary-voting, Obama-electing sellouts, those traitors, those political degenerates, those CLOSET SOCIALISTS! Why, I hate them worse than I hate the Russians, and why shouldn’t I? They can’t even make good vodka, and they don’t smoke Havana cigars, like me! And if you heard a paradox there, tough. Get a life, snowflake!
Yeah, I’m Rush, and with Newt Gingrich, I almost single-handedly weaponized Republicanism and turned it from a party of common-sense conservatives into a party of vicious, frothing hate-mongers, people who would kill their own grandmother and be happy about it if she voted for a Dumb-O-Crap, people who would spit on anyone who wasn’t white, or at least didn’t agree with me, and do you know what?
THAT WOULD BE THE RIGHT THING TO DO, BECAUSE I LOVE AMERICA THE WAY IT WAS BEFORE 1860, WHEN A WHITE MAN WAS STILL KING AND DIDN’T HAVE TO CURTSY TO FEMINAZIS AND BOW TO COLORED FOLK OF LOWER RANK, AND IF YOU DON’T, WHY DON’T YOU GET THE HELL OUT AND MOVE TO SOMEPLACE LIKE NORTH KOREA, WHERE THEY APPRECIATE PEOPLE LIKE YOU, YOU FAGGOTY SCUMBUCKETS! SUCK MY DICK, LIBERALS, AND YOU BETTER SMILE WHILE YOU DO OR I’LL MAKE IT EVEN WORSE FOR YOU THAN I ALREADY HAVE.”
(I made this up, but it’s pretty typical of Limberger’s, I mean Limbaugh’s, screed. He was too smart to use curse words or profanity, but you knew what he meant… dog whistle, anyone?)
I don’t believe in gods, an afterlife, or hell…
…but right now, I wish I did! Some ice water, Rush? Looks like you could use it… you’re sweatier than a pimp watching a pole dancer… oh, sorry, they don’t allow that here! Have some “blood with burning turpentine,” as the Black poet Vachel Lindsay described, and you better enjoy it, motherfucker, ’cause that’s all you’re going to get for all eternity.
SOURCES: “The Ballad of Simon Legree,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlV0ZQ8u7DU, and Theodore Robert as the character Simon Legree in the 1927 silent film of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, directed by Harry A. Pollard.Photo of Limbaugh, AP/Julie Smith, Buffalo News
by Malcolm J. Brenner, bachelor of freaking arts, Communications!
I am told by a friend who hangs out in such places that my 1971 experience with Dolly the dolphin is one of those topics that ultimately comes up when guys get together in their local bar, lounge, club, etc. and the talk turns, as it inevitably does, to sex.
“Yeah,” somebody will eventually say, “but how about that guy who had sex with a dolphin, huh? How about that, man? I mean, wow, sex with a dolphin, how weird is that?” And so on.
(For the phrase “had sex with,” please insert your favorite crude euphemism into whatever orifice is unoccupied.)
Now, let me point something out: IF NOBODY HAD EVER HEARD OF ME OR DOLLY OR WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN US, NOBODY WOULD EVER BE UPSET ABOUT IT, OR WITH ME. Because nobody cares about things they aren’t aware of. Duh!
Therefore, I rightfully conclude that most people are NOT unhappy with me because Dolly and I made love (which is how I always describe our experience); no, they are not.
They are unhappy with me because I had the nerve to write and self-publish a goddamn book about it (and get reviews, give interviews, make a movie, etc.)!
To some, this admission or confession of bestiality is so shocking that they want to kill me by various gruesome methods, maim or torture me, castrate me, lock me away forever, but to date, NONE OF THEM HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO PAY MY PSYCHIATRIC BILLS, which kind of indicates where their heads are at. They express real and sincere anger at me for speaking out about my experience of interspecies love and communication, of which making love was the peak, although not the final, experience. They accuse of me “romanticizing it,” to which I answer:
What else do you call it when a dolphin you’ve just had sex with rests her snout on your shoulder and stares into your left eye with her left eye, taking a full minute or twoto tell you things that we humans have no words for?
Look, members of the marine mammalogy community, I think John C. Lilly had feet of clay, was exploitative/abusive of those around him, did not always treat his dolphins well, abused recreational/psychiatric drugs — I’ve been around enough to know most (but not all) of the stories about him are true.
But let me point out something important to you, which you seem to be unaware of:
John C. Lilly is DEAD!
He died 19 days after the attack on the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa.in 2001.
Rumors of his impending resurrection
have been somewhat exaggerated!
Dead, dead, DEAD, finito, muerte, morte, passed out of this vale of woe, dearly departed, in the next world, bit the bullet, he’s knocking on Heaven’s door.
The question becomes,
“Why are you still blaming him whenever you have difficulty getting the funding you think your research deserves?”
HE MAKES A GREAT WHIPPING BOY BECAUSE HE WAS SO CONTROVERSIAL!
Hanging out in sensory deprivation tanks? No. Cracking animals’ skulls to probe their brains? No. Taking lysergic acid diethalymide, or giving it to dolphins? Nope! Tripping in deep space-time? Nah. Teaching underwater basket weaving at Esalen? No, not even that!
Here’s the REAL problem people have with Dr. John C. Lilly: He didn’t really give a shit what you thought about him! And, when necessary, he didn’t hesitate to let you know it, point-blank.
I will recount a scenario which I witnessed with my own eyes. To tell it briefly, Lilly was being interviewed by a radical leftist writer on assignment from PENTHOUSE, and since we both showed up about the same time, Lilly invited us into a trailer parked outside his house in Los Angeles. The writer set up his micro-cassette recorder and began the interview, but right off he adopted an unnecessarily confrontational attitude towards Lilly’s experiences in “altered states,” such as he wrote about in Center of the Cyclone.
It only took the radical writer (crap, he was wearing a leather jacket and driving a Porsche, for godz’ sake) about 10 minutes to start really pissing Lilly off, and when, in deep frustration, he asked where Lilly stood on the subject of – gasp! – NUCLEAR WAR, the neurophysiologist gave him an answer he didn’t want to hear.
“I don’t know,” Lilly said. “Maybe our energies here are needed on some other planet?”
That was just too much for Mr. Leather Jacket! He and Lilly both stood up, and, after a brief face-off, Lilly told him to get out, and if Lilly felt like it, the writer MIGHT come back and finish the interview tomorrow!
The writer didn’t let the door him in the ass. As the sound of his Porsche’s pancake engine faded, Lilly turned to me, a bemused smile on his lips. “I’ll tell you something my father passed on to me,” he said. “You should never lose your temper with anyone, but you should always be able to make it look like you have! What did you say your name was…?”
Out of all the pieces of advice I have gathered from learned and sage individuals over the years, that is the funniest, and truest and the most useful!
AND I THINK IT SHOULD BE KEPT IN MIND ABOUT ALL ENCOUNTERS WITH JCL.
So, marine mammalogists of the world, and especially the USA: If your research doesn’t get the funding you think it deserves,
FIND SOMEONE ELSE TO BLAME,
because John C. Lilly is dead, and probably will remain that way for the foreseeable future, thank you.
This concludes Malcolm’s message to the the marine mammalogists of the world. You may now return to your regular duties.
(Note: When I was upset and angry with a certain old-time dolphin researcher three weeks ago, my daughter persuaded me to express my feelings by writing “Adios, muchacho Randy, via con delfines!”by citing this story she wrote, her most popular pieceto date. Thanks for letting me reprint it here, Thea!)
It was a regular Thursday afternoon, and the south sidewalk of Mid-Market near Chai Cafe was busy as usual. I, like many San Franciscans on any given day of the week, was quietly enjoying some delicious noodles. However, unlike most San Franciscans, I was interrupted when a complete stranger decided to spit at me. You.
This isn’t even me. This is some other pigeon, which you would know if you didn’t think we all look alike. (via Wikimedia Commons)
How do I know you’re a tech bro? Besides the statistical likelihood — you were a 20-something clean cut blond with a messenger bag walking from a place that specializes in chai but doesn’t have a single Indian inside, in the direction of Twitter headquarters — I can recognize faces. You probably didn’t know pigeons can recognize faces. We can. I see you every day hauling your laptop around and looking put upon because you’re almost 27 and you’re not a billionaire yet. Sorry San Francisco has been such a disappoint for you.
Would you even recognize me if you saw me again? I was that brilliantly colored iridescent bird with a noodle hanging out of my beak. Oh wait, you probably thought I was some kind of dark gray color because all humans are colorblind. Compared to pigeons, anyway. You probably didn’t realize that I can see millions more colors than you can thanks to my superior wavelength discrimination. You don’t even have a hexidecimal code for my most boring hues, bro.
Maybe you hate my kind because you think we’re “rats with wings.” Yeah, don’t think I haven’t heard the expression. I have. We all have. The rats aren’t crazy about it either, because it’s a double insult. You may be interested to know that, while we pigeons have a number of things in common with mammals that other vertebrates lack, like a four-chambered heart, a milk-like substance that we feed our young, and unshakeable noodle cravings, it’s convergent evolution. We came up with that shit on our own. My ancestors were ferocious predators bigger than your two-thousand-dollar-a-month SoMa studio while yours were scurrying through the underbrush eating beetle larvae. We’re not “rats with wings.” We’re dinosaurs with wings. You’re rats with messenger bags.
Or perhaps you hold a grudge against anyone who you deem useless to society. In case you haven’t noticed, no one’s hiring pigeons right now. But that hasn’t always been the case. Hopefully you’re not so ignorant that you haven’t heard of carrier pigeons, who dutifully carried messages around for humans for centuries. That’s right, bro. Facebook is like pigeons for computers. Your heroes aren’t sounding so innovative now, are they?
Speaking of heroes, pigeons have been decorated war heroes, often sacrificing their lives to defend your freedom. Think about that next time you spit at someone just because they eat their lunch on the sidewalk. They might be someone who literally risked their life and sanity so that you could code your still-no-Android-version app in English instead of Nazi.
I don’t know what the basis of your grudge is. But I do know that spitting at me would be a punishable offense if I were a human. It’s legally considered assault. And violent behavior toward animals is a known precursor to violent behavior toward your fellow humans. So maybe now is a good time to check that. Meditate on how humans and pigeons both have loved ones who worry about them when they don’t come home. (You probably didn’t know pigeons mate for life, either.)
So CTFO bro. Smoke some weed. Take your frustration out on your bug report, not on the fellow beings you share a sidewalk with.
PS. If you want to atone, you can donate time, money or noodles to Palomacy Pigeon & Dove Rescue. These normal, mentally healthy Bay Area humans actually help pigeons instead of spitting at them.
With apologies to famous Hollywood feature director Frank Capra, who joined the U.S. Army Signal Corps in WWII (the same branch my father, a radar operator, and Ray Harryhausen, a stop-motion animator were in) and made a series of seven documentaries collectively called “Why We Fight,” which are studied to this day in film classes as brilliant, virtuous pieces of propaganda, unlike Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl’s 1936 Berlin Olympics documentary “Triumph Of The Will,” which everyone agrees is a brilliant, evil, racist piece of propaganda, because we won. Right?