Words to Bring Back: “Pellucid”

– Definition: adj. Permitting to a certain extent the passage of light.

– Used in a sentence: O, for a more perfectly pellucid presidency!

– Why: I’m in favor of this one strictly for the sound of it; the feeling on my tongue as I shape each obscure syllable. (Plus, it makes a nice alliteration with “perfectly” and “presidency.”)

Neither Rain Nor Snow Nor Sudden Car Door

BOMBING STEEPLY DOWNHILL ON SAN Francisco’s pedestrian-thick California Street while screaming “No brakes!” was just another day in my brief life as a late-1980s bike messenger.

I had gotten into “the life” by happy accident. Having been fired from a Berkeley print shop whose required competencies were far over my head, I was at a loss as to what to do next. But not for long — thanks to my erstwhile roommate and pagan-brother, John “Wheels” Wheeler.

“You might consider becoming a bike messenger,” he told me. “You could even use my spare bike.”

Who could refuse an offer like that?

Lord, I’m walking Your way. Let me in, for my feet are sore, my clothes ragged. Look in my eyes, Lord, and my sins will play out on them as on a screen. Read them all. Forgive what You can, and send me on my path. I will walk on, until You bid me rest.”
Shepherd Book

365 Names: “The Presence”

THE PRESENCE is a more experiential-than-otherwise Divine descriptor. It attempts to portray the ineffable (nameless/wordless) quality of that-which-some-people-call-God, or what Freud’s friend Romain Rolland termed the “oceanic feeling” of being One with the Universe. It has the advantage of being both non-dogmatic and non-dual; there’s nothing to argue about, only something to feel or, if you prefer, to see. That’s certainly bad news for people who like to write about such things, but much easier on the rest of us who don’t (or don’t choose to) understand the reference. Right?

How Many Dead Friends Are There?


James Sputnik Gjerde: 1/24/1962 – 12//27/2002

AT LEAST ONCE OR TWICE a week The Metaphorager‘s access logs reveal that someone is reading “Letter to a Dead Friend,” a 2010 paean to my still-dear psychic twin James “Sputnik” Gjerde. At this writing (March 2019), there have been 72 views in the past twelve months alone; it’s the second-most viewed post in that time, and the tenth-most of all time. As I favor artful bluntness in my headlines, it seemed natural to title it thus.

Little did I know that it would generate such traffic.

Since the ‘logs showed this article had surfaced via search-engines, I first thought it was from people wanting to make one last goodbye Sputnik-ward.

Why I Love: Robert Anton Wilson

IT’S THE WAY HE BLOWS my mind. It’s the way he mixes conviction with doubt. It’s his searingly funny prose. It’s his search for Ultimate Relativity. It’s that he taught me some important Latin phrases, like “Cui bono?” and “Non illegitimati carborundum” (look ’em up). It’s how he manages to make everything he writes sound like a personal communication to the reader. It’s the little phrase-gems he drops off-handedly like “reality-tunnel,” “domesticated primates,” or “guerrilla ontology.” It’s his nimble skipping from neuroscience to neuropoetry to neuroanalysis to neuropolitics. (It’s also that “neuro-” is his favorite prefix.)

“The Merchant of Sonoma”

THEY SAY THAT THERE IS never any “first Jewish settler” anywhere — because no matter who it is, some other Jew was there beforehand. Better instead to say “first known Jewish settler.” And in the case of Sonoma, that honor and claim falls to Solomon Schocken: immigrant, ship’s cook, entrepreneur.

This month marks the 140th anniversary of the opening of the well-stocked “S. Schocken – General Merchandise” store on Sonoma Plaza, in the building previously occupied by General Mariano Vallejo’s military barracks (now a museum). To introduce him to the Sonoma Index-Tribune‘s readership, I wrote a piece on Mr. Schocken for the paper’s June 1999 quarterly magazine. Please enjoy.