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Lummox Journal
Raindog's View

The View From Down Here

From the beginning (Oct. 1995), each issue of the Lummox Journal has started out with an eccentric ramble by the editor, Raindog, under the title "The View From Down Here".

What follows is a series of essays that focus on the theme of respect.

The View From Down HereFeb. 2001

Ground Hog's Day. 2/2/51. By the time you read this, I'll be 50. Starting on the back nine... over the hill... making the turn into the home stretch... Sigh. FIFTY. ACK! Not ACK because fifty is old or ugly, but ACK because when I was younger, even though I knew this day would come, it seemed so far off in the future, so very distant that I couldn't really imagine the future ever getting here...now. And yet, here we are. But where is the world of the future? Where is that "better living through chemicals -- all electrical home" world, we were told would be ours, in the future? Where are the flying cars? Where's the cheap atomic energy that was supposed to be the answer to all the questions? Where is the peace and harmony? In short, where is that big bright future that everyone was supposed to be working towards...somewhere in the future? Still?

It's not that I object to getting older, I mean consider the alternative: if you stop living, Jack, you dead!

No, what I worry about is not being able to move along with some degree of dignity and respect. These are rare commodities in this life. We live in the time of the THUG, where the playing field has not only been leveled, but it has been sanitized "for your protection." The bar has been lowered, the ball has been dropped, there's a thief in the white-house, and something's already hit the fan - we just refuse to smell it!

You say, "aw come off it Raindog...it ain't that bad." And I say, the gloves are off, my friend, and the chips will fall where they may.

In the time of the THUG, we cannot ignore those who serve their god, THUG, cannot ignore their stupidity, cannot help but laugh at their outrageous behavior. And, we must keep a wary eye out for them, because their mad swirling "momma said knock you out" mayhem can spill over onto us at anytime, anywhere, and for no apparent reason. I know. I live amongst thugs. I hear them on the streets at night, preaching chapter and verse from the bible of THUG, book of Whoop-ass. Their weapons chatter like agitated old ladies. I see them in the morning, bluntly redefining the headlines, decrying the inequities of the better off versus the common man. They're all for the common man, especially if the common man has what they want, like the common woman. They despise the success of others, yet go to great lengths to show off their own.

As I said before, respect (the Otis Redding version), it's in short supply. Personal respect may have always been in short supply, but there were all sorts of guidelines laid out by The Man, be he of god or country or the school (old & new). These days, the man has pretty much stopped listening to his own rules, too. Respect is given, not a given. It comes from the center and when the center is no longer the center, then everything becomes skewed...add an "r" and you see how we got to be so. Screwed.

As I look up on the wall over my desk at the map of the USA and I see a lot of pushpins marking where you all live. It's quite amazing to think that what I write here is going to households in 32 states and 5 other countries around the world... I wonder if the decline of respect (which contains concepts like dignity and honor) is a 'local' phenomena or if it's regional or global. Or is it just me being overly-sensitive?

Perhaps as I grunt my way into geezerhood, I'm really just more aware of my vulnerabilities. It's all new terrain from here on out. Some of you will be laughing about now, because you've seen the half century mark go sailing past already, but go easy on me, I'm slower than most so it'll take me a while to slog past.

I've always admired anyone who has gotten through this mess of years without succumbing to the easy out of being close-minded and/or whiny. I wonder whether I'll be able to avoid it myself. I've already been accused of being whiny on occasion. Jesus, I hope this isn't how it starts: whiny every so often, then more and more until, finally, you only open your mouth to whine about something (shudder). Indirectly, it's why I started thinking about respect in the first place.

It's around this time of year that I announce the LUMMOX OF THE YEAR, and this year's Lummox is a man who has certainly had his share of knocks over the years, enough that he could be, should be, a grumpy old man . Yet, somehow, he is not. Somehow he has avoided the easy out and has remained on track even though he's some twenty years up the trail from me. And that, my friends, is what lead me to think about respect. That said, I'm happy to announce that John Thomas is the next Lummox to be honored. John should be no stranger to long-time Angelino poetry buffs, but I don't know how far out his influence runs. I have it on good authority that John is notorious is many quarters around the west coast. He's been rackin' 'em up and sinkin' 'em in these parts for nigh onto forty years, ever since he thumbed west in '59. John lives with his life partner, poet Philomene Long, a knowledgeable and accomplished writer, photographer and documentor of Beat culture. Together, they have penned The Book of Sleep, The Ghosts of Venice West, and Bukowski in the Bathtub. And coming soon: Beat Potraits, a prose sequence about that long-ago Beat world; and I'm happy to say that I've just published a Little Red Book for John called Feeding the Animal (number 31 in the series).

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