The Sayonara Playlist

voodoo 3


In the unlikely event that any kind of memorial gathering should occur, here is the music I recommend, and copyright be damned. Not a problem, though, because like I said, my goodbye party will be more of a virtual event, and this is its soundtrack.





Jim Pepper

Sweet Release
Boz Scaggs

Indigo Girls

The Great Divide
Joe Cocker

Presence of the Lord
Blind Faith

Land of Hope and Dreams
Bruce Springsteen

Heading for the Light
Traveling Wilburys

Rock and Roll Heaven
Righteous Brothers


P.S. Apologies for any out-of-date links. I’ll try to reach back from the beyond and fix them. Also, sorry about any ads. Even from the beyond, I doubt if they can be excised.

Dear Unapologetic Hippie



Total vegetative nonsentience for all I knew could produce the same visual effect as transcendence of maya’s veil.
— Norman Spinrad in Child of Fortune

(This responds to a piece Phil Polizatto wrote. From here on down, the fancily-formatted quotations are from his “The Last Saturday in July.)

A few elderly people were sitting on the porch rocking in their chairs, taking it slow. At least that’s what one might think watching them as they swayed forward and backward, seemingly staring into space, removed from the headlines, the hammering news of the world. Maybe they’re not taking it slow. Maybe it just seems that way to us…

Your words bring to mind one of the zillion science fiction stories I read as a young teenager (and long before the advent of entheogenic drugs.) It described a farmer striding through his field, looking grim and forbidding. But his eyes were seeing a wondrous dazzling landscape like fractal animations, or that Kurosawa film where the world looks like a Van Gogh painting.

I used to have a decorative wall poster with sayings by Vernon Howard. I forget how it went exactly, but he admonished us to not be intimidated by the look on someone’s face, even if it seems to be angry and hostile. Just relate as if the person looked neutral or pleasant. There’s an expression now, RBF, which means “resting bitch face.” Some people just can’t help how their face looks in repose. Or even in action. In other words, whatever thoughts you have or deductions you make about a person’s facial expression, might bear no relation to her or his actual inner state. So the old guy on the porch…

He is having his own kind of acid trip, his own kind of suspended animation. His mind is filled with galaxies. He is experiencing both inner and outer space simultaneously.

In a story, I gave a character this line:
“I don’t care how I look to the world, as long as the world looks okay to me.”
Maybe that’s how the folks on the porch feel about it.

Time and its passing

For a reminder of time passing, women have a built-in advantage. Every 28 days or so, comes the biological signal that another month has gone by, “…and what have I accomplished besides getting a month older?”

I adore the full moon, it’s creative prime time, and now it’s the marker of time. What worries me is how quickly it comes around, reminding me each time of a piece of writing whose completion was going to be my full moon project more than a year ago, and every full moon since. The velocity with which time progresses is really appalling.

Entheogens and eternity

You were part of everything. You were everything! And everything was beautiful.
Time stopped. The Eternal Now.

Know what’s amazing? It’s astonishing how just an instant, a few seconds, of a certain kind of experience can be enough to fuel a whole lifetime’s peace of mind.

You expressed interest in my theories about the afterlife. Okay, think of the best Space Porn website you ever saw, but even better. Three-dimensional, and each vision more mind-blowing than the previous. I think, after vacating a meat body, you get to float around looking at the wonders of creation for a while. It’s a vacation. When it’s time to sign up again, maybe you have the option to be reincarnated as a mollusc, just for the experience. Or something fun, like a bonobo.

Sooner or later though, you have to come back as a human on earth, or another planet’s human-like equivalent. The point being, to have a conscience and karma and a sense of humor and other distinctive attributes that molluscs may not possess. Also, I think you get to pick the circumstances you will be born back into. Sometimes it’s like taking a class where there is no other way to get the credits. It might not be fun, but you know you gotta do it. Until graduation or promotion or Bodhisattva time or whatever.

I think something you and I both did right was to publish a book about our experiences this time around. It’s like a message in a bottle, that you cast adrift in the remote hope that a future self might stumble across it. Imagine another incarnation of you, discovering that book and being seized with the conviction that you had lived that life, and it triggers a major spiritual awakening in your life…

Art and Death


I have some discretionary writing time today, meaning it’s okay to pick any one of 99 things to work on. Unsure of where to start, I consult the heap of to-do notes. The top piece of paper suggests a little chore with no commercial value, and not germane to any ongoing project of mine. Something to look up just purely because my nosy brain wants to know. How are you supposed to say “euphemism”?

I once had a prof who said “yoo-foo-ism,” which I figured was either ignorance or affectation. Maybe at University he had belonged to an exclusive literary society, whose members recognized one another in the larger world by their twee mispronunciations of certain words.

So the other day I’m listening to an audiotape of David Foster Wallace essays (not the ones he himself narrated) and it includes lists of words that interested DFW. For one of them, the reader says “yoo-fee-ism” – which I assume is “euphemism” with the middle M omitted. The definition Wallace had jotted down for it was “ornate, allusive, overpoetic prose style” which sounds right.

So I goes to Wikipedia, and I skims the article, just on general principles, and there it is: the happy accident the Goddess wanted to guide me to, today. The nugget of novelty, the serendipity, the bit of information that hooks into something else I’ve been thinking about. Here it is:

Among indigenous Australians, it is forbidden to use the name, image, or recording of the deceased.

That opens up a world of questions. In my life as an artist, one of the peak experiences was an exhibit of Australian aboriginal paintings. I’m pretty sure some of their creators were no longer alive. Yet their names were displayed next to their works. In books, too. And theoretically, it would be wrong to use the name, image, or recording of any artist still living, either. Because after that person dies, the photo or recording, or the printed syllables of their name will still exist.

Maybe the names of the dead should remain unsaid, but no matter how fervently the indigenous Australians hold that belief, I’m guessing that the government requires every kind of name on every kind of paperwork. The corollary to that would be, I bet everybody has a secret name that is never, ever divulged to the authorities or written anywhere. Because that would be the only way to observe the taboo. If some ancestor’s name is on a gallery wall next to a painting, so what? It never was their real name anyway.

Or maybe I got this idea from The Last Wave. There’s another thing to look up. Along with the answers to several other questions raised by this notion.

Also, a dead guy is the screensaver on my computer. Maybe I do him a grave (ha) disservice by keeping him around like that. Maybe in the spirit world, it is considered incredibly rude.

P.S.      In “euphemism,” the middle M is definitely pronounced.

P.P.S   Ha ha, but I’m still wrong. The thing kept bothering me, so I found a picture of the actual page of the book, and what Wallace had on his vocabulary list was “euphuism,” a word new to me. The dictionary suggests what sounds like “yoo-fyoo-ism.” So the professor, all those years ago, was right, and not saying the word I thought he was saying, and that’s okay. But it still doesn’t explain why the narrator of the audio book said “yoo-fee-ism.”

And anyway, it led to the thing about the Australians.


The painting “Oubliette” could be yours!