Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Infinite Decline

There was a time in my life when I thought there would be infinite progress. I would get smarter, stronger, wiser, and more successful incrementally forever. Now I knew this wasn't true, or possible, but I still had the vitality, energy, and most of all, time to believe it. 

That ended abruptly in 2013 when I had open heart surgery. Being told I may have been days, weeks, maybe even just hours away from dying suddenly was sobering. And I cam out of my surgery roaring like a lion. After six months of training I found myself in maybe the best overall shape I had ever been in. But it was hell maintaining it. I have lost twenty-five pounds of muscle since the peak of my training cycle two years ago. 

Hypothetically, I could become obsessive about my physical condition again, train like a madman, and achieve a body I'm happy about again, but the energy it takes just to get up the damn stairs now convinces me this will never happen. It's not the type of tired I remember when my heart was blocked, but a new kind of tired... being old. I know I can fight it. I do fight it. I do cardio, and walk, and as much resistance exercise as I have time and energy for, but I'm getting smaller, weaker, tighter, more decrepit. 

That's just the physical aspect of my decline. I have no creative energy. I used to read anthologies of younger poets and muse that they could even be in their early forties and still be considered young. Because that art form is so difficult to master it's no surprise when someone even at fifty just starts to hit their creative stride.

But not me. I never got any better at poetry. I never really got any better at anything. I never considered myself in decline before, though. I just felt I would hit my prime later. Now I know whatever prime I had is past. If I were a lion they would relegate me to the fringes of the pride, and eventually kill me off. 

I keep searching for something I can get good at this late in life. Something that doesn't require a force of will or boundless energy to master. Maybe I don't even need to be great at it, just good. 

It all seems fair to me now. 

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Next Book In the Rock River Literary Series

A few words as I get ready to eat my TGIFridays chicken wings.

Apparently a very few words, because I never went back to finish that blog yesterday, and I have no idea what my original thought was. Derrick Rose was traded from the Bulls, the Democrats had a sit-in in Congress, and a storm of the century failed to show up here in Rockford. Aside from that I think I was probably just going to talk about The Rock River Literary Series.

Book number four in the Rock River Literary Series seems to be set, and book five is also in the pipeline.Both will depart from the beaten path in substantial and interesting ways. 

The book release party for book three, The Blood Dark Sea by outlaw poet Dennis Gulling, was a wild success. Guest bartender Tim Stotz concocted a specialty cocktail, The Blood Dark Sea, and I stood in for the author of our first book, Jesus Correa, who had to wash dishes that night.

Outsider poet Thomas L. Vaultonburg impersonates the best dishwasher in the world, Jesus Correa at the book release party for Dennis Gulling's The Blood Dark Sea at JR Kortman Gallery in Rockford, Illinois

I see that The Blood Dark Sea is going to be reviewed in Cultural Weekly and some other places, but not much talk locally. Everyone who has read it thinks it is the best book of Outlaw Poetry written in America in over a decade. Having read it as many times as anyone but the author, I agree. Sitting on the couch yesterday waiting for the storm that never came I just realized it was time to move on to the next book. I still will be doing all I can to promote the last three, but it's time for the next one. 

The author contacted me when Jenny and I were in New Orleans. And after a vacation, and a vacation needed to recover from that vacation, it's time to start working. Time to promote Rockford poetry. 

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Outsider Poet Visits The Lafayette Blacksmith Bar In New Orleans

Just went through a rather grueling couple of months, which culminated in a vacation to New Orleans and the book release party for The Blood Dark Sea, which I had to host and perform as Jesus Correa in. 

Now all of that is behind me, and the last thing that is wearing on me is I did an Echocardiogram last Tuesday after my cardiologists ordered it nearly two months ago and I waited for insurance approval, and now I'm awaiting those results. I hope they will be casual about it and just use the online medical chart to say everything is fine, but until that happens there's really no way to know.

All of my book projects are wrapped up, and all I have is one more dental procedure in terms of my health, and ongoi g fitness and good nutrition, so maybe I can spend the next little while working on some of my goofy personal projects that only I know or care about, like Shadmock, Ubermenscer, Hall of Bad Dudes, Momus Shrugged, not quite blank, The Outsider Poetry Slam League of America, Things of the Dead, or even one of my own books.

This is me standing outside the door of the Lafayette Blacksmith Shop Shop Bar in New Orleans. They claim it is the oldest bar in America. 

Finally got an air conditioner into the window at the apartment, now I am worrying that it will fall out. Probably won't have a lot to say about Outlaw Poetry now that I wrapped up the last book. 
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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Fug Me? Fug You.

After we got home from New Orleans last Friday, we were right back at it, checking out garage sales and the antique mall the next day. Mostly we just missed the kids and wanted to keep moving. We also went junking yesterday for date night, and I just couldn't get into it. I kept telling Jenny I hadn't even been back here at the apartment to see the last few things I bought, including this copy of The Fugs First Album. I finally got a chance to take a picture of it, but alas, no turntable here. I can maybe listen to it on Spotify. That's the whole update. I'm still exhausted from traveling and worrying about the book release party for The Blood Dark Sea Saturday. I think I might post some Jesus Correa poems I am rehearshing later because he can't be there to read Saturday.

The Fugs First Album

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Don't Choose Death Over Hillary and Trump, Vote Green

I have voted for Democratic candidates all my life. Except Hillary Clinton. I've never cast a vote for Hillary Clinton. I was resigned to do my vote Blue no matter who duty in 2008 when out of nowhere a better candidate showed up and saved me. I was younger then, and would have cast that vote, even though I didn't want to. I don't like Hillary Clinton, and after all these years about being asked to explain why, and doing so, I'm not going to anymore. I don't like Hillary Clinton, and I don't have to explain to you why, because almost every other reasonable person I know feels the same. 

But Mary Anne Noland really didn't want to vote for Hillary Clinton. So much, so, in fact, that she chose death over that possibility.

I understand how she feels, but I think her problem could have been solved by a possibility that maybe she should have considered, and that millions of Americans might want to look into... voting for a third party candidate, specifically the Green Party candidate. 

I left the Democratic party during this election cycle, and I won't return. Not only won't I be voting for Hillary, I won't be voting for ANY Democratic candidates. I won't be a part of a club that has gone out of its way to tell me they don't want me as a member. The gaslighting that has gone on in the past few months towards Bernie supporters rivals historic abusive relationships like Ike and Tina Turner. You want to be condescending, abusive, and lying cheats for the entire primary season, then when it's time to go to the general election pull that famous abuser routine "You know why I had to hit you, baby..." 

Going back through my history it became abundantly clear I never really was a Democrat in the first place. I was a Progressive. The only votes I ever even remember feeling good about casting were for Jerry Brown in 1992, and Bernie Sanders in 2016. Either one of those candidates could easily be called an Independent, or have been running as a third party candidate, and it would have been much the same.

So, why are so many of us resistant to give a third party a chance, even when the two major parties have pretty much melded into one entity, which Noam Chomsky described as moderate Republicans this week? If I wanted to vote for a 1950's style Republican, it sure as hell wouldn't be Hillary Clinton.

But back to third parties. Americans like to win. We're obsessed with it. Maybe that's why we are reluctant to vote for a third party candidate. Because we know we're going to end up on a losing team. We're going to "throw our vote away." But how is voting for what you believe in rather than what you feel forced to settle for "throwing your vote away?"

Also, how can you really be sure you don't actually agree with the Green party platform as much as, even more than the candidate you feel you have no choice but to vote for?

Listen, don't let the death of Mary Anne Noland be the first and most senseless death of the second Clinton reign, look into alternatives. Hell, you can even vote for yourself if you want. It's allowed. Don't be a stubborn American who would rather die than vote Green.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Progressive Anger. Goodbye, Democratic Party.

This is an email I got from Alan Grayson today because I am a contributor to his campaign. For the first time in my life I have been able to send candidates money. I also really like Tammy Duckworth and have contributed many times to the Bernie Sanders campaign. 

But that's over now. I have left the Democratic party, and I will not return. That, unfortunately, includes Progressive candidates like Grayson, and candidates I respect like Duckworth here in Illinois. 

I'm sick of you assholes. I don't mind taking a loss, or even a beating in life. I have often in life found myself on the losing side of many issues. What I will not stand, however, is the condescension and the insult heaped upon me as a Progressive and a Bernie Sanders supporter, in that order. I don't want to be on a team with the DNC, their surrogates, media hacks, and establishment supporters.

Sure, I think you know you don't give a fuck because Hillary doesn't even have a competitor in November, and two candidates with historic unfavorable ratings will square off against each other. Where it might make a difference is in all those races where Democrats actually need help. Because they won't be getting mine, and I'd like to encourage others who feel as I do to not only withdraw their support for Hillary and the notable national races, but all races involving a Democrat. 

You wanted to be asswipes, mission accomplished. But don't EVER, and I mean EVER ask me to support you again, because I have alternatives I like equally as well. As far as the local, state, and national races I would have loved to cast a vote for Democrats in, tough shit. I can live through a conservative Supreme Court. Been doing it a long time. 

I encourage anyone who feels even remotely the same to find a third party they can live with, and fight for them to get ballot access and equal access to public finds, debates, and media coverage. It is my sincere hope that candidates like Alan Grayson consider running in a new party, The Progressive Party, in the future, but as long as they have that D behind their name they get no green from me.
Speaking of Green...

Dear Thomas,
This is a short essay on progressive anger: its origin, its attributes, its meaning, and its cure.

We’re tired of being sold out. That’s why we’re angry.

The Democratic Party has long been the home for those who believe in justice, equality, and peace. And for just as long, our progressive wing has served on the front lines in this fight. We’ve made the calls, knocked on the doors, donated the funds, and stuffed the envelopes to get Democrats elected. We were grassroots leaders when Democrats took the Senate and the House in 2006, and the White House in 2008.

In my case, I heard the call for justice, equality and peace, ran office for the first time in my life in 2006, and lost. Then I picked myself up off the floor, dusted myself off, ran again in 2008, and won. Our party has benefited from a steady stream of people like me who care enough to get involved, and push as hard as we can to make the world a better place.

This election cycle, all that has changed. The same leaders, and the same party, for whom we’ve been the foot soldiers for so long have become dismissive, condescending and even malicious toward anyone who isn’t willing to “get in line” and follow the dictates of party bosses. Our own party politburo has accused us of disloyalty when we wouldn’t back yet another American war in the Middle East, or their sell-out schemes to expand corporate welfare. Our own party politburo has attacked us for opposing new fake trade giveaways to multinational corporations. And worst of all, our own party politburo has attacked us ruthlessly whenever we want the choice of our candidates to be made by The People, rather than party bosses and party hacks. In the hands of a corrupt and inept “leadership,” our love for the principles of Team Blue has become unrequited love. All they care about is obedience – “shut up, and do as you’re told, or we will hurt you.”

My campaign and other progressive campaigns were, of course, prepared for the inevitable attacks from the GOP. We were less prepared for the attacks by petty dictators from inside the very party we helped build. This election is going to be the most expensive in history, because we not only have to spend to fight back against the Republicans -- we have to spend to fight back against the corrupt Establishment ruling class of our own party. Chip in $8, or whatever you can afford, to help us fight back now >>

Who wins, when malicious Establishment Democrats viciously come after progressives like me? DC “political consulting” firms, and the Republican Party. Who loses? The American People. Our so-called “leadership” is not just putting their thumb on the scale – they’re smashing the scale.

I used to say that you had only three friends in life – God, your mamma, and the Democratic Party. It’s getting really hard to say that these days.

We’ve been betrayed by the Party that we built, the Party that we love. So we’re angry. What are we supposed to be, bemused? Nonplussed? Mildly dismayed?

How can we stop this cancer from destroying our party, making it the unDemocratic Party, and letting the Republicans win? It’s simple. Give the Democratic Party back to the People. Let the People, not the party, decide who our candidates are.

If we want to continue to be the party of the People, then we need to be a party by the People, and for the People. It’s just that simple.

We’re fighting as hard as we can to win back the heart and soul of our party, but we can’t do it alone. Please chip in $8, or whatever you can afford, to join our fight, right here and right now >>

Let’s teach the politburo a lesson: The People, united, can never be defeated. That’s what the Democratic Party has to be all about – whether the party hacks like it or not.
Alan Grayson
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Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Dude's Prayer Poem By Outsider Poet Thomas L. Vaultonburg

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