…down on the floor, scratching for more…

Title from Fistula, “Smoke Cat Hair and Toenails”, from the album Vermin Prolificus

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Manic as fuck. This has been building. It’s a frantic race to nowhere. A deranged rat on a hamster wheel. The sedatives aren’t working (“I think I can handle my sedatives, bro…” -Charlie). Cyclical thought experiments. Running through my past transgressions. Recall, revisit, rewrite, restore. This is why the lines get blurred.

Suddenly, focus. Something intense, white hot, piercing, and its all that there is. It envelopes from the inside out, wraps tentacles, consuming. It is all that there is.

It is gone. And there is nothing. Less than nothing.

Fractured psyche, rearranged. The protective cover of scar tissue. Healing. Growth. Change…

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© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Monday Morning Musings

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Careful, motherfuckers, The Ryan is on the loose! No adult supervision! This could end badly…

As the “responsible” party in this relationship, Jenn Baby had to return to work today in order to further pervert and reshape the minds of America’s youth. The little bastards! >:]

As such, rather than leave me at home all day to play indoor, multi-story fetch with Sir Oswald and sniff my way through the roommate’s panty drawer, Lady Jenn gave me the keys to her luxurious German sedan (Volks-VAGON! NEIN!!!), and carte blanche to do as I please. “Within reason.” But, what is reasonable? Whatever my mind regards as a logical and conscious act, I suppose? >:D

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Since this is a public site and open to viewing by my Sweetness and anyone else who cares to stop by, I should point out that I am planning to spend the next eight or so hours driving to the Pacific Coast chilling at a nearby park and writing writing writing! If only the weather would cooperate…

Speaking of weather, um…what in the good and righteous fuck is this white shit covering the range surrounding The Meadows?! This is the DESERT, amiright? In goddamn FEBRUARY?!  So, unless one of Colombia’s infamous under-radar drug flights spontaneously combusted high in the sky, showering its contents across the Las Vegas desert valley range — I didn’t sign up for this shit.

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I was in an irritatingly chipper and vibrantly manic mood since waking this morning. My random, compulsive and cheerful yammering nearly got me a punch to the gooch from Madame Jenn on the way to her place of “bidness.”  It lasted all of another five minutes, until I came to stop at a red light on Alexander and Durango.  Suddenly and without warning, I wanted to punch the entirety of existence in its stupid fucking FACE. And for no discernable reason, mind you…but sometimes a belligerent bad Buddhist just needs to be consumed by scorn and loathing, motherfucker. 😉

I use the swear words a lot. I notice that most other bloggers and social media users do not, or do so sparingly. I am going to go ahead and assume this is not because you people find callous, direct, and offensive language to be a tool of the weak-minded and under-literate. I’m thinking I probably just give less fucks about rubbing the other dumb, ugly human meat-wrapped bags of calcium and liquid the “wrong way.”

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Just so you know, I include myself at the top of the list for dumb, ugly human meat-wrapped bags of calcium and liquid. I do stupid shit constantly, I make horribly illogical and functionally poor decisions, I hardly ever truly know what I’m talking about, and — much like the rest of us — I have zero goddamn idea what I am doing in Life or in any given speck of a moment.  We are all simply struggling to find our path through this frightening and chaotic mess of existence and toil!

There was a brilliant and intellectually revitalizing line of thought that began to form in my head during that last paragraph, which I intended to flesh out here. Unfortunately, I get distracted by self-editing as I write, and so I have haphazardly wandered from that vital subjective musing, and now cannot find my way back.

LOST! All is LOST!!!

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WHYYYY Lawd?! It shoulda been ME!!!

© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Catastrophic Purge of Torment Into Oblivion: The Body & Thou Lay Burden Upon Existence

The Body Thou Hatred Collab CD Cover

I awoke this morning with a powerful craving for fresh vinyl. I knew not why; I knew not for which specific piece of pressed wax I was searching. I knew only that there was The Calling, and that I needed to, once again, comb through my personal back-catalogue of music and film, identify some long-suffering hangers-on with which I could be convinced to part, and run that shit on down to the local Zia Records. STAT. This was a mission from the gods, that much was certain — but WHICH ONES?!

As it would turn out, the answer to that question had been heralded by the semi-apocalyptic swath of late winter/early spring storm weather to blanket the landscape of our scattered and scarred homelands. For our purposes here in SoAz, that storm manifested itself in a weighted, churning torrent of DOOM clouds, oppressive blankets of humidity, and the merciless, cleansing deluge brought down in tears from the heavens. So. Much. GLOOM. The relatively sunny disposition of the morning which greeted me this day would belie the terrible discovery I was soon to make.

Though guided by the hand of Beelzebub himself, no sooner had I dropped of my trade items to be reviewed and processed than I found myself standing before the looming magnificence of Zia Oracle’s “New Vinyl” stand. There she was, the Virgin Mother of our Megalomaniacal Saviour Herself, Mary “Joe’s Girl” Christ, in stunning portraiture. In one of those innumerable moments of chance and destiny, I nearly turned away disinterested to go peruse some dusty, forgotten corner of the used albums section, when a loathsome, sickly feeling in the very cockles of my loins urged me to halt.

The Body Thou Hatred Collab Front Cover

I had missed something.

There, in the upper left-hand corner of the LP I had glazed over cursorily, just above the Blessed Mother’s somber profile, an unassuming annular adornment.

The Body Thou Hatred Collab Sticker

The Body
Thou
You, Who I Have Always Hated
Thrill Jockey

MOTHER OF GOD.


TheBody-Band

Since their accursed formation in 1999, Portland by-way-of Boston experimental DOOM-sludge titans The Body have been steady straight dropping split LPs, collaborations, EPs, and full-lengths at a frighteningly manic pace, with no less than four massively dense albums released since the dawn of 2014 alone. It was late Summer 2014 that I first became aware of the terrifying, savagely introspective, soul-scarring music that heavily-armed duo Chip King and Lee Buford create. I was researching several bands unknown to me in preparation for an upcoming weekend of riffage and torment at Tucson’s own premier extreme metal festival, Southwest Terror Fest. My expectations were appropriately heightened by the information I had gleaned from online articles concerning the corrosive brand of punishment offered by the impossibly weighty pair, and I have no problem admitting that I was physically and psychologically terrified as I pressed play on that first track.

My expectations were NOT disappointed.

The Body’s primary goal as evidenced by the music they create would appear to be complete psychological catharsis and cleansing through anguish. Vocalist/guitarist Chip King does not “sing” or “scream” in any of the traditional metal, or otherwise musical, senses. Instead, he emits desperate, agonizing wails like those of a feral, tortured beast in the final, bloody throes of a savage death. After looping his guitar through an intricately arranged network of sample machines, processors, and vintage Sunn amps, the final product emitted from his monolithic stack of speakers is the biting, burdensome wall of tone and distortion of metal fragmented, deconstructed, pounded unrecognizable, and then reassembled as something wholly new and terrible. Drummer Lee Buford rises to the task of not only matching but accentuating this indescribably dense patchwork of misery and toil by pounding his percussives with the calculated ferocity of an ironworker forging weaponry from the very molten core of existence. Every seismic beat serves to propel the already catastrophic purge of metallic fury into utter oblivion.

Thou band performing live

I am, admittedly and unfortunately, quite a bit less versed in the history and lore of Southern-Fried, NOLA-bred warlords of DOOM, Thou. This is an oversight that will most assuredly be remedied post-haste. However, hailing from the birthplace of such legendary names in the world of miserable, loathsome, down-tuned riff-laden DOOM-sludge as EYEHATEGOD, Crowbar, Soilent Green, and Goatwhore, the scornful bastards that make up this modern-day harbinger of destruction have clearly paid attention in class, and have most assuredly benefited from rolling up and smoking their homework. Similar to their comrades in Hatred, Thou is likewise prone to a dizzying pace of sonic proliferation, having put out an impressive assortment of DOOM-product since their 2005 inception to rival that of The Body.

Illustration by Megan Acosta, unceremoniously ripped from Meat Mead Metal!

Illustration by Megan Acosta, unceremoniously ripped from Meat Mead Metal!

The Body and Thou first came together in collaboration early last year on the deceptively titled Released from Love EP. This four track work was discreetly birthed into the world as a vinyl-only limited edition album, and is now being included with the digital and compact disc releases of You, Who I Have Always Hated for the first time in those formats. While not a necessary requirement for anyone approaching these two bands with fresh ears, Released does serve as an outstanding introductory work or companion piece to this new full-length. The remaining six hereto unreleased tracks that make up Hated stand fine enough on their own, but the immensely cathartic if exhausting experience will certainly leave any proper extreme metal aficionado parched for more, and Released will do well as a small but welcome offering to that void.

As for Hated itself. There is NONE heavier. Nearly as soon as my turntable stylus touched down between the freshly-pressed grooves of side one, I was overcome with the crushing, monolithic wall of leaden sound that is “Her Strongholds Unvanquishable.” FUCK SAKES. My chest hurts, and I can’t BREATHE… While the four tracks on Released certainly provided worthy evidence of the terrible power at hand through the unity of these two savage forces, it is clear that their horrifying tools of battery were honed to maximum barbaric supremacy for this record.

The Body Thou Hatred Full Artwork

From the very beginning, it is evident that the collaborative energy conjured by the unity of these two forces of subjugation serves to push both entities together into wholly new, more extreme, and ultimately more savage and unrestrained territory. The demon hordes called forth by Thou, in their sluggish, plodding might, at first may seem to overpower and bury the more atmospheric, expansive framework for which The Body is known. To assume this would be a mistake. More attuned ears will have no trouble hearing The Body’s maelstrom of nihilistic desperation weaving serpentine throughout the massively thunderous plodding surge set forth by Thou.

Throughout most of the album’s six gargantuan tracks, it is clear that the whole is by far greater than the sum of its parts. Even an initially stumbling foray into “covers” territory results in a transformative, revitalized section of creativity that does well to turn the original — NIN set-list mainstay “Terrible Lie” — into a new and largely unrecognizable permutation. While the re-imagining does not quite hit with the same sparse weight of “Coward” (the final track on Released) — itself a complex, forlorn retelling of an emotional bit of songwriting by the late Vic Chestnutt — it nevertheless gives the record a welcome draw-spring for the industrial metal undercurrent that The Body bring to their creations, smoothing the stitches between the two entities welded in hatred on Hatred.

Elsewhere, the two bands make effective use of dissonance and forced coalescence to accentuate their brand of torment on the thunderously severe “He Returns to the Place of His Iniquity,” and make up for the perhaps intentionally pretentious title of “Beyond the Realms of Dream, That Fleeting Shade Under the Corpus of Vanity” by imbuing that track with the ruinous, cataclysmic rage of a vengeful scourge unloosed. By the time we reach the apocalyptic final refrain of “Lurking Fear,” we are so thoroughly pummeled, worn and threadbare, that whatever lurking beast to come next can only be greeted with welcoming arms — if only they had not already been torn from our torso and used to mercilessly beat us into submission.

The Body Thou Hatred Collab Back Cover


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

EXODUS: Let The Ryan GO!

Moses Reciprocity Bitches

Those people who have experienced some of The Ryan in person, or those who share vicariously in Our shenanigans through social networking from time to time (We love all y’all!), are generally aware that I am an unpredictable basket case, but mostly the cute, fun kind. Not always, but mostly…

However, more recently and with increasing urgency, I have been finding it a more overwhelming struggle to not completely lose my shit multiple times a day in reaction to situations or events. The Crazy Pills that I am on, under physician supervision of course, always seem to keep me in the Fun Zone for a few months, but then it seems as though The Unhinged among us start to slowly assimilate the Happy Lunatics. Up the Dose, Change the Formula, Reset, Play Again.

Happy Lunatic? Or The Unhinged? :D

Happy Lunatic? Or The Unhinged? 😀

As a self-identified, sporadically practicing Buddhist hooligan, I am attempting to include meditation and self-reflection in the therapeutic process. This comes with two disclaimers, the first of course being that you only get out what you put in. Meditation is a practice that must be performed and maintained with regularity to develop both adroitness and results. AHEM, Ryan. We said, “Meditation is a practice that must be performed and maintained with regularity to develop both skill and results!” Secondly, though, meditation is also similar to digging a slow hole to China in that, occasionally, you might happen upon something you didn’t know was there. And, occasionally, that thing might have some force behind it.

Geyser Explode (Ned)

Unfortunately, some of The Unhinged sort of, well, became unhinged at work Friday morning, and I had a “teensy” little panic attack. Fortunately I felt it coming and ducked into the employee dumper slash locker area slash break room (it’s the size of a closet) to ride it out. Again unfortunately, though, when I get overwhelmed my brain stops processing normally, I get confused, and instead of acknowledging and allowing myself to feel my fear, I lash out in anger (and those fools gave me knives…HA!). Anyways, once I felt I was adequately re-leashed, I tried getting back to work. It didn’t take me long to realize “getting back to work” i.e. “getting back to ‘Normal'” wasn’t going to happen this time. I was barely holding it together, I wasn’t performing well, I was treating everyone with undue contempt and disrespect — especially my white bread benefactor K-Dub, a.k.a. KMFSM a.k.a. Kevin Mother Fucking Saunders, Manager.

Futurama I Quit

So I called it. I realize now that the whole thing could have been much more grand and climatic, but I calmly asked to speak with K-Murda for a few minutes, thanked him (and by extension, the entire management team…except you, Rhudy. FUCK YOU. Nah, I’m just playin’ bro…) for everything, explained the situation, and excused myself. No firebombs. No battle cries from the oppressed Irish motherland. No fits of explication or explicitness. I didn’t even get to break anything or knock a motherfucker out! Peace out, BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse. Oh, hey, can I still get my last free employee meal?

The naked truth that We are left with, now, in moving forward, is this. Getting off drugs and alcohol was the best thing for Us, and needed to happen to keep this carcass alive. In the wake of that, however, has been a series of interesting developments on the mental health front. This was the shit We had going on that I didn’t know about. This is the shit I was self-medicating as a compulsive and fervent abuser of glorious and inimical recreational drugs. Many issues were unleashed quickly and therefore dealt with early on out of necessity. Other issues have been more gradually making themselves apparent.

HST and BFM

Always the over-thinker, I have felt mostly capable at introspective analysis, and have felt a greater understanding of myself and The We as a result of dealing with these matters of insanity as they arise. In the words of one Rustin Cohle, “I know who I am. And after all these years, there’s a victory in that.” But, as with all things, it is when one begins to feel too much contentment (stagnation?) that the unforeseen happens.

True Detective Cohle I Know Who I Am

We have been feeling more Unhinged as of late. It is becoming more difficult to exist in the world as opposed to inside Our head. This means We face more of a struggle when trying to venture out into that world and interact with You People. This is easy to do over a computer, because We can maintain Our illusion of control. Things get infinitely more tricky in a face-to-face, hands-on setting, though, because suddenly there are so many other factors involved. Focus becomes infinitely more difficult. And, as of late, and increasingly, We are becoming less able to maintain that focus. Eventually, as some witnessed Friday, We break.

“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.” — Albert Camus


I am not feeding you all this detail in an attempt to elicit sympathy. I can do that just fine some other time, thank you. Part of this is completely selfish, because I am figuring some of this stuff out as I write about it. The other part, equally selfish, is also somewhat altruistic — or at least that’s what I tell myself. I share these things with people so that they can maybe understand me, but also maybe understand each other and themselves.

Dr Phil I Feel Your Pain

Damn, but pretentiousness feels so good!

In any case, obviously We cannot survive only as Tortured Artists. Not at this point. We haven’t yet developed the resources. The challenge in moving forward, is, how do We attend to keeping the level of disquiet manageable while also seeking out, acquiring, and performing acceptably at a “day job”? Wherever I go, I take myself with me. Wherever I go, there is still the We, and We still must maintain control over the Unhinged. Therefore, I have been looking for opportunities that elude a perhaps more tolerable level of additional stress, even if that inevitably means less pay. Something associated with The Arts, i.e. publishing, entertainment, freelance writing, whatever, would be ideal, but obviously I must also look outside of that intriguing, challenging, and ornately adorned box.  I am very interested in things I can do from home, perhaps, for many obvious reasons, the second most being that I would be able to make some money while also pursuing and developing This Writing Thing. Again, though, in the short term at least, I must also remember to think…um…within, um…what’s the word? Oh, right…”Reality.”

Because, of course, the goal is for writing to one day be The Gig. I wonder how We’re doing so far?

You Want To Be A Writer Why


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

CLICK.

[What follows is an original piece of fiction I wrote some years ago, previously published in Conceptions Southwest, per the citation below.]


CLICK.

Old Wood FloorIn my mind I know what’s waiting at the top of the steps. I always know. Still, I take them, slow, careful, aware of the sickened creak that the weathered boards make under my weight. Once I reach the top, every time, I try to stop myself. Turn back, I say. Don’t walk down that hall. Don’t look through that doorway.

Every time, my feet disobey, carrying me to the room at the end of the hall. A sliver of pale dusk sunlight gasps its way through the crack made by the slightly open door, spilling onto the dull wooden floor. I step cautiously to the door, the light warming a slice of my face, blinding my right eye. A breath, a moment of nauseous realization, a splinter in my finger as I nudge open the door. Then there’s the blood. The sick warmth of the room, the way it crawls, stinging, into my nostrils. My father, barefoot, slumped over his shotgun. I imagine the vacant, listless look in his eyes, just before he hears it. Click–

I found him a week before my tenth birthday, but in the dream I am as I am now–26, sagging shoulders, a belly that crumples on top of itself when I sit. I am rarely shaven, my hair sticks at odd angles that I don’t care to smooth down. I wonder at my own fate, how it might resemble his, vacant promises to myself when I think of my son. He came when I was twenty, living with his mother more out of comfort than genuine affection. I used to write to him often, sending candy or a toy car when I could, but the letters started coming back a few months ago, the mark from the post office in dull red.

I always wake with the click.

* * *

I count the change in my pocket, adding it to the crumpled bills, and the lady hands me a burrito wrapped in white paper, damp with its warmth. Outside I expose an end and bite deep into it, tasting almost instantly the heat of the green chile and the smoky flavor of the carne adovada. It makes my mouth water, and for a moment, it will calm the churning in my stomach.

As I finish my meager lunch, I spot Hefty down the street, waddling his way toward me. He’s dragging something, I can’t see what. His name is Jeff, but on the street we call him Hefty, mostly because of his weight and partly because he thinks himself the boss, always trying to order everyone around, as if he had a reign on the desperate freedom these streets bring. Shit, he hasn’t even been out here that long. I wipe my mouth with the crumpled wrapping paper and push myself with a foot off the wall, giving Hefty half a wave.

Hey Fano, he calls to me, his breath heavy. Why don’t you help me with these?

I see now he’s got two fat, worn tires in tow on a wiry rope, scraping along the sidewalk. Get them yourself, pinche gordo, I say with a smile before moving to help him. What the hell do you need with two tires, anyway?

You never know, he says. We bring the tires to Hefty’s spot down the alley, rolling them behind a grimy dumpster near his folds of bedding.

You get any big tips?

I chuckle, shaking my head. Business slow today, jefe, I say.

* * *

The first time I saw Lucia was at my cousin’s graduation party. It might have been my party, too, but I gave up on school a long time ago. I remember–she catches my eye as soon as I step into the soft yellow light of the den, a haze of cigarettes and mota hanging in a dome over the circle of tattered furniture. She sits on a couch in the corner of the room, between Alejan’s girl and some kid I don’t know. Her smile warms the room as her brown eyes meet mine.

I look quickly away, searching the room for Alejan, asking him where I can get a drink.

A week later I see her again as I leave the construction yard where I work. In the lazy afternoon light I get a better look at her, able to notice the soft earth tones of her skin, her long eyelashes that don’t need makeup, her full pouty lips. She walks up to me as I beat the dust from my faded jeans.

Hey, she says, and I turn to face her, squinting at the sun as it halos her form. Alejan gave me directions, she tells me. He said I should meet you.

I smile to mask the discomfort I feel. He should have let you catch me at a better time, I say, gesturing at my filthy clothes. But what I really mean is, I’m not prepared for this.

She follows me home, and after I shower and change I drive her to Beto’s on the other side of town. A real hole in the wall, but they have good carne asada and cheap beer. Her warm eyes and her subtle, earthy scent make me forget myself for a moment. A month later we live together. It’s a year, though, before I tell her about the dreams.

* * *

I knew something was wrong, she says. Why didn’t you tell me sooner? She lies on the bed next to me, propped up on one arm. I see worry in her soft eyes. Her tiny hand strokes the dampness off my cheek.

I didn’t think it mattered, I say, turning on my side so I don’t have to face her.

It matters to me, she says, wrapping herself around me and pulling me close. It matters if it affects your sleep, if it affects us.

It won’t, I say. It hardly ever happens. I turn and nestle myself into her neck. I try to breathe her in deep, let myself relax in her arms. She holds me close, runs fingers through my hair and along the base of my spine. I feel like, maybe, it’s all that I need. Until she tells me about the baby, a few months later, it seems that it is.

* * *

Hefty goes off to catch the bus to Old Town. They don’t know me there, yet, he says. Better for business if they haven’t seen you hanging around too much.

I wander listlessly after he’s gone, the harsh noon sun beating down upon me at an angle that makes no room for cool shadows. Eventually I return to the alley, sit atop the dumpster, and stare into the dusty crevices between the bricks of the wall, the scent of decaying trash and stagnant water stinging my nostrils. After some time Nico saunters up, a toothy smile painted across his leathery face.

Who put the feather in your ass, I say as he nears me, bobbing his head to a silent tune. He doesn’t answer, and he doesn’t need to. His pupils and the blood-strained space around them tell enough.

Idiot, I say, shaking my head. That shit’s gonna end you.

* * *

Later I check my box at the post office, knowing I’ll find nothing, but hopeful just the same. I keep the box because it’s the only thing I haven’t lost in my life, and because I know if Lucia ever wants to find me, this is the only way she’ll know how.

I remember when she left, taking Benicio. I am gone, on my monthly trip to the unemployment office. I come home to find the empty bones of the apartment, cleared of our few possessions, only the piss-stained mattress lying defeated in the corner of the muggy room. I stay in the apartment for another month and a half before the landlord changes the locks.

It takes me a couple of weeks, but I finally badger Lucia’s new address out of her mother.

This is for the boy, not you, she tells me over the phone. Not much of a father is better than no father, she says and hangs up.

I send Lucia a letter, just to see how things are going. I only half expect her to write back, so I’m surprised to find a postcard from her almost two weeks later. On the front is a photograph of a deep green mountainside pierced by a waterfall, its billowing jets of white water frozen in free fall as they plummet into the misty haze below.

In the short paragraph on the other side, just below the Denver postmark, she tells me about Beni. He’s never been happier, she writes. Don’t worry about visiting, it says, just above her curvy signature. It’s the only letter I receive.

* * *

I hear it–click–and then she’s there, her hand upon my face, her eyes sharp, concerned. She wipes her fingers through the beads of sweat on my brow.

You went there again, didn’t you, she says. You found him again.

I can’t help it, I tell her. My sleep takes me there.

It’s happening too often, she says, sitting up. It’s affecting us, now. Pale blue moonlight peeks through the blinds and fragments her face.

A cry starts up from across the room, and she leaves the bed to check on him. She’s right. The dreams aren’t just inside me anymore. They make this place dark.

Soon the crying stops, and she crawls back next to me. I want to look at her, to see into her through her eyes, but I can’t make myself move. I want to say I’m sorry, to tell her it will stop, I’ll make it stop, to tell her I’ll be better for her, for Beni. I lie next to her, silent, until her breathing takes on rhythm.

* * *

The afternoon crawls, a long, vast nothing. I collect change for a while off the Interstate exit, offering the legal notices section of the paper for a quarter, a dime, whatever beat college kids in their rusty pickups and old ladies peering over the steering columns of their long, sleek town cars decide to spare. This is all I have today, I say with a shrug, and they trade change for the folded paper, tossing it behind seatbacks and rolling on with pitying half-smiles.

Eventually the sun falls to the horizon, sinking into distant mountains with rays of gold-piercing, shadowy building facades. This time of day always brings waves of yellow sickness to my stomach, like eating a bad egg. I turn my corner over with a nod to Jacob, carrying as always his bucket of wilted roses, and trudge toward Central. I count out change for a pint of Dark Eyes at the corner store on 3rd, and the clerk hands me the bag, the condescending darkness on his face unmistakable. I’m the first one to the alley–for most the night is young, but the day has been enough for me, and I’m ready for the warm blanket of drink, ready to walk the short night hallway once again.


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

This work of fiction was previously published as follows:

Sanders, Ryan S. “Click.” Conceptions Southwest Vol. XXVII (2004): 107-110. Print.


We Are The Ryan. Who? We. On first. Bases loaded…

Beard of Doom

We Are The Ryan. We exist to destroy Ourselves. To understand Ourselves. Destruction makes way for new Life, new growth. New essence. New We.

“My soul is a hidden orchestra; I know not what instruments, what fiddlestrings and harps, drums and tamboura I sound and clash inside myself. All I hear is the symphony.” — Fernando PessoaThe Book of Disquiet

We Are The Ryan. We Are the All becoming One, We Are the particle from which springs All. We Are the light and the dark within, We Are grey spiral and churning and form from void.

SPiRAL O)))

SPiRAL O)))

We Are the Enigma. We Are subjective, the voice you know. We Are everything you seek to understand. We Are the obscured, and the apparent.  We Are pretense and irony and burlesque hyperbolic gravitas.

We Are paradox. We Are contradiction and absurdity. We Are as familiar as skin.

“Mike did not seem to grasp the idea of Creation itself. Well, Jubal wasn’t sure that he did, either — he had long ago made a pact with himself to postulate a Created Universe on even-numbered days, a tail-swallowing eternal-and-uncreated Universe on odd-numbered days — since each hypothesis, while equally paradoxical, neatly avoided the paradoxes of the other — with, of course, a day off each year for sheer solipsist debauchery.” — Robert A. HeinleinStranger in a Strange Land

We Are The Ryan. We Are irreverence and contempt. We Are the warm embrace of scorn. We Are the sarcastic smirk across the face of the world, We Are the blatancy of state-sponsored slaughter, We Are your voyeuristic thirst for televised lawless disregard. We Are your after-church programming.


We Are laughter at a funeral, we are a selfie in a coffin. We Are ever changing and fickle and impermanence manifest in SQUIRREL! We Are a strobe to heal your seizure and subliminal plastic advertizing. We Are on during the sporting event of the century!

We Are beer and brats and Sunday afternoon, We Are laughter drowning sorrow and a distraction from the dread. We Are hope and denial and a sunset behind a raincloud and beauty within the beast, the underlying and the disregarded and all the We as You wish to see but never remember how to find. We Are the uncomfortable Looking.

“He lived at a little distance from his body, regarding his own acts with doubtful side-glances. He had an odd autobiographical habit which led him to compose in his mind from time to time a short sentence about himself containing a subject in the third person and a verb in the past tense.” — James JoyceThe Dubliners

We Are The Ryan. We Are the hooligan with a heart of gold. We Are the charming and the loyal and the overbearing and the suffocation. We Are the polished shit, the sweet-tooth addict-craving, the forbidden caramel apple and the last clinging tooth. We Are hillbilly chic. We Are the final confused joke after the laughter has long left.

We Are constant self-appraisal and the doubting trailing voice. We Are awkward sidelong clingings and the echoes of passed time. We Are voice given to scar, a sound bled dried and crusty, flaked desert parched sands and halite in your self-inflicted exploratory surgery.

Photo by Walter Freeman, Dec. 16, 1960 Howard Dully receiving his "ice pick" lobotomy Dec. 16, 1960

Photo by Walter Freeman, Dec. 16, 1960
Howard Dully receiving his “ice pick” lobotomy Dec. 16, 1960

We Are the child hiding in a corner, the beaten and broken without will to escape. We Are the towering behemoth wielding pain internalized and compounded, formed and redirected. We Are an open wound, gaping, pungent. We Are what must heal from the inside, We Are the cotton-stuffed urgency of everything We never wished to see.

“The Dark Crow Man sits And stares into Oblivion… Into Cold… Into Nothingness.  It’s snowing in His mind.  He’s created Himself in His own Image.”  — Lamb of God, The Subtle Arts of Murder and Persuasion

Artwork by Four Star Tattoo, Santa Fe, NM

Artwork by Four Star Tattoo, Santa Fe, NM

We Are The Ryan. We Are the voice inside, loud. We Are the escaping breath of daring and uncertainty and doubt made whole, driven with guile and madness towards grasping, fickle fingers. We Are what must be said to make room for what comes next, for We Are the road traveled and the traveler, destination and journey and purpose and…

darkcrowmanface

We Are The Ryan.


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Immaculate Light and Water: Pink Floyd’s The Endless River Sails Into Eternity

pink-floyd-the-endless-river-art“We bitch and we fight/Diss each other on sight…”

Aside from a couple of strategically placed spoken-word samples, these striking lyrics make up the first sung vocals to appear on the recently released, and highly anticipated, Pink Floyd album The Endless River. If the words themselves do not immediately pique the interest of even the most casual listener, they are certainly made all the more notable in that they appear nearly 45 minutes deep in the musical experience, a lengthy stretch of ambiance even for the sonically expansive, technically proficient prog-rock masters that are Pink Floyd. On an album largely obsessed with themes dealing in the necessity of maintaining and improving communication in our shared human experience — indicated by song titles such as “Things Left Unsaid”, “The Lost Art of Conversation”, and “Louder Than Words” — this relative absence of lyrical content may seem to be paradoxical, even hypocritical. A sparseness of singing is certainly the chief complaint I have heard from others regarding Pink Floyd’s first — and supposedly final — offering in over 20 years. However, to assume the decision by the band to relegate vocals to a specific and climactic moment is rooted in anything other than deliberate intent would be a mistake.

Richard Wright, David Gilmour, and Nick Mason circa 1994

Richard Wright, David Gilmour, and Nick Mason circa 1994

With these lyrics — which come during the final track of River, the aforementioned “Louder Than Words” — one might be tempted to assume guitarist/vocalist David Gilmour has indicted global society as a whole, expressing in clear and simple terms the root of our animosity, conflict, and miscommunication with one another. While this may not be a poor or even wholly incorrect interpretation, especially considering the often intentionally ambiguous and open nature of music and lyrics, it is not indicative of the imagery and meaning that was immediately conjured in my mind.

During my first experience of the album, I had been toying with the idea that The Endless River seemed to perhaps be not only a swan song for the group (which has been stated by Gilmour in interviews) but also perhaps an extension of the proverbial olive branch, a way of resolving and seeking closure for their occasionally tumultuous past and history. Anyone even casually familiar with the story of Pink Floyd is certainly aware of the bitter and lengthy rift between former bass guitarist and vocalist Roger Waters and the rest of the group. In fact, when the announcement for this album was made official in April earlier this year, Waters was quick to distance himself by publicly and loudly reminding all of us that he had no input or involvement in this Pink Floyd offering (we know, Roger…we all know). So, it is not a stretch to believe that “this thing we do” refers to the career and history of Pink Floyd itself, and that the lost art of communication which Gilmour laments could be speaking of the toxic communication between the members, each other and Waters.

Roger Waters, the "Lost Floyd"

Roger Waters, the “Lost Floyd”

The argument that this swan song is also a last rights of sorts, a pleading for reprieve from the suffering of past sins, exists wordlessly throughout the rest of the album, as well. With The Endless River, the entire history and lifespan of Pink Floyd passes before our eyes, as the instrumental journey retraces steps from notable points throughout their storied career, from the early Syd Barrett days, to towering achievements such as Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall, all the way through this album’s now 20 year old predecessor, The Division Bell. As dearly departed keyboardist Richard Wright’s contributions — Wright tragically succumbed to a battle with cancer in 2008 — were largely culled from unused improvisations recorded during the Bell sessions, one might expect to hear some similarities to that album. However, when we come across echoes of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” in “It’s What We Do”, saxophone and guitar/synth interplay reminiscent of moments on Dark Side during “Sum” and “Skins”, and even the grandeur and ostentatious choral splendor of The Wall on “Allons-Y”, this album’s exploration and homage to their past cannot be mistaken for anything other than deliberate, meaningful soul-searching and self-appraisal. This is the work of aging artists gaining a newfound wisdom, and looking back to dissect and lay to rest the wreckage of their turbulent past. After all, this Life, this thing we all do, is bigger than each of us as individuals.

The late Richard Wright, Floyd's unsung hero on keys

The late Richard Wright, Floyd’s unsung hero on keys

What, then, to make of the album’s title itself? The Endless River. Given the smooth, languid flow of the album as well as the fluid pace of the musical journey we as listeners experience, the title seems fitting enough. But how do we reconcile what has been indicated by Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason to be their final output as this band with a titular reference towards eternity? My feeling is that this album is intended to mark Pink Floyd’s departure from this, our physical reality, into the afterlife, so to speak. The endless river could refer to something along the lines of the river Styx, which in Greek mythology forms the boundary between and connects Earth and the Underworld. The endless river is the universe itself, the primordial ether from which all things spring and to which all things return. Fitting, then, that Pink Floyd have chosen to sail into the great unknown by embracing and reconciling every part of themselves, so that their entrance into eternity comes from a state of weightless innocent bliss, just as we all “are” when we come to be.

Last Men Sitting - Gilmour and Mason, present day

Last Men Sitting – Gilmour and Mason, present day

One can only hope we all have such a sublime and restorative opportunity at our own end, to rejoin the universe in shimmering ecstatic motion as pure, immaculate light and water…

Do you agree with these musings? Feel as though something warrants further exploration? Am I completely full of shit and do I need to clean out my ears?! Sound off in the comments!


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

We Are The Ryan, and We Welcome You

“My soul is impatient with itself, as with a bothersome child; its restlessness keeps growing and is forever the same. Everything interests me, but nothing holds me. I attend to everything, dreaming all the while…” – Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet


We Are The Ryan.

And, if you are reading this, it is already too late. We are inside your head now. We may never leave.

The Being-ness of all things is in a constant state of flux (or IS it?), and my intention with this page is to reflect and perhaps somewhat elucidate that state of eternal change by bringing some of the fleeting randomness which lurks around in my mind out in the open for others to experience. Eventually, I intend for this site to be a sort of all-inclusive home for the entirety of my creative endeavors. But, for now, we shall just have to see how things progress, one blood-letting at a time.

So, what sorts of posts might you, my interested voyeur, expect to find here? That remains to be seen. You are witness to my first attempts as an aspiring writer to utilize resources available to wordsmiths such as myself on the vast and infamous Internets. As such, this is a journey we will absolutely be undertaking together. While my first priority in writing is to write for myself, I would be remiss to suggest that my “Audience” does not play an integral role in this process, as well. Because, in addition to writing simply because I MUST, I am also writing so that I may share these parts of me with others who might wish simply to be vicarious observers, those who may be interested parties, or those who may even find some modicum of inspiration, hope, or comradery in my mad ramblings.  And so, it is also my hope that this page and its content will create some exposure, get the insanity out there a bit. Perhaps even spread the Sickness…

Initially, I intend to aim for three posts per week minimum, unrestrained by format, topic, style, or content. Whatever strikes my twisted, schizophrenic fancy, so to speak. Eventually, I plan to work up to daily posts, and even topical columns and recurring categories. Therefore, much like a Melvins album, you never quite know what you may find here. And, just like a drug dealer, my goal is to give you a fix that makes you want to come back for more. So, leave me some feedback now and again, if you would like. Let me know what highs and lows strike your fancy. But be wary of taking too much. And remember, while civility and respect go a long way…you also really don’t want to cross your supplier. Tread lightly…but please keep treading!

We Are The Ryan.

We Have Arrived.


 

© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.