I’ve Moved!!!

Culverted has risen from the sewer drains, traveled across the country, and become lost in the disorienting atmosphere at MicksNeonFog.wordpress.com.

Mick’s Neon Fog is officially the fourth blog I’ve had – Shards of Glass, Wanderlust Misfit, Culverted, and the final iteration, finally, officially, Mick’s Neon Fog.

The first blog (I’m fairly sure it was titled Shards of Glass) came out in 2011 and was cancelled for the same reason its two successors were – uncertainty about the focus of the blog.

Yes, they’ve all been personal blogs and every personal blog covers a variety of topics, subjects, insights, life crises. So too for the three previous blogs I’ve had. What these iterations have been is a process of discovering a theme for my life, for how I feel about the world and myself in relation to it.

What the issue has been is the presentation – how to present the material of, basically, my life, in a single, cohesive context, or theme. Shards of Glass represented the broken pieces of a larger picture, Wanderlust Misfit was during my hitchhiking years, and Culverted tried to wrap my head into the context of ‘a truth running beneath society’.

This has been the problem of my previous blogs: the contexts, the themes, were too narrow. Life isn’t narrow.

What Mick’s Neon Fog, as a contextual theme, can offer that the others haven’t, is a much wider scope to present material in. Think of the title, it represents a contradiction of sorts – fog is mundane, obscures sight, is bland and suffocating and bleary; neon is bright, illuminating, exciting, energizing. What Mick’s Neon Fog offers is the dreariness of modern life and the weird, beautiful, awe-inspiring excitement found in it. This duality, it just so happens, is a perfect description for what’s in me.

A contradiction knows no bounds. A contradiction is freeing, capable of being this and then of being that. A contradiction embodies possibilities, exactly the possibilities that I – and by proxy Mick’s Neon Fog – need to explain. This is, finally and officially, the blog I will keep for the rest of my life.

So go – directly to Mick’s Neon Fog******

 

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Where The Possibilities Bloom

Human history can be analyzed by a single, constant trend: human progress is the expansion of possibilities. Revolutions in politics, technology, the sciences, philosophy, culture, have done nothing if not expand the possibilities of individuals and societies. Begin at any point in human history, and move forward: the possibilities of people grow with time.

This is the point of existing: to expand possibilities.

This expansion, this uniquely human condition, has always been carried on the backs of pioneers, pushed through wildernesses beyond the burned edges of maps. The more terrain humanity inhabits, the more materials and resources in the hands of people, the more possibilities we may nurture to blossom.

Population centers operate with varying degrees of unity, cohesion; to co-exist requires forms of cooperation, and cooperation requires degrees of like-mindedness: communities maintain specific branches of possibilities; facilitate these possibilities by limiting these other possibilities.

When individuals within a community cannot access the possibilities to which their hearts are aligned, and after the avenues of politics, technology, philosophy, etc. have been exhausted without fruition, these individuals strike out on their own, to forge their own paths, to create their own, unique sets of possibilities: wooden ships and covered wagons, caravans and curraghs.

Humanity in the 21st century, then, quite obviously finds itself in a predicament, a set of circumstances heretofore never encountered: we drill oil in deserts and frozen wastelands, harvest unnavigable forests and jungles; there are freeways between mesas, highways through mountains, Burger Kings in the Moab and parking lots in the Badlands. The frontier of last year is home to a Walmart; the parking lots cover the globe: the daily death of a dozen languages, the assimilation of indigenous cultures and the unencumbered spread of consumerism.

Not to bitch and moan: there is nothing wrong with buying an Iphone. But to facilitate one set of possibilities means to limit other sets of possibilities; globalization is a like-minded community: mass-consumption consumerism is the goal. A specific set of possibilities is being pushed at the expense of other sets of possibilities.

And there is nowhere to go: subdivisions across the plains, suburban sprawl on the mountainsides; corporate parks in the swamps, shopping centers in the deserts.

We are waiting for the clouds to part, for the skies to open, for the stars to make themselves clear. We are waiting for progress to thrust us from this terrestrial womb. We are awaiting the inevitable Great Expansion.

Until then, there is stagnation…

You will go to college, you will get a degree, you will get a 9-5; you will commute, you will take orders, you will buy a house in a sub-division; you will have a mortgage and car payments, go grocery shopping and browse aisles to upgrade your appliances, your entertainment, your furniture; you will buy health insurance and one week a year you will vacation at the beach. If you are one of the increasingly lucky few, you find it in yourself to start your own business, or even to homestead.

You may be an inventor, an innovator, the pioneer of a field, but your existence has been defined: your set of possibilities is increasingly specific. Yes, technology will continue to develop – solar energy, electric cars, and 3d-printing can revolutionize – but those who prosper from the current, predominant set of possibilities will keep the branches of this set ever trim: applications of technology can be limited to the 9-5, consumer world.

Our possibilities must expand.

There may be no more land for the pioneer, but there is always a frontier. Whatever exists beyond the predominant set of possibilities, where the culture of a community as a whole comes to an end, there lies the frontier – there are more dimensions than geographical location.

These dimensions are cultural; they are of economics and politics and lifestyle.

To expand possibilities is exert will: it is to suffer and it is to work. It is no easy-going to settle a frontier, to pioneer a lifestyle choice. But it must be done: it is our purpose for existing.

This is a call to explore what lies beyond consumerism, capitalism, college degrees and 9-5’s; to start collectives, co-ops, to drop-out and hit your own textbooks; for the autodidacts and the fearless, the brave, and the pioneers of minimalism: gypsies, vagabonds, homesteaders; a call for those who own their own labor, and expend it wisely; to those who are their own bosses, and trade with neighbors for local goods; to those who can grow their own food, and teach others how to manage their green-houses; to those who have ideas the rest of us cannot fathom.

This is a call to disregard the narrow set of possibilities held out by society, to step outside and to pioneer the lifestyle that calls you. This is a call to the discontent, the anxious, the misfits desirous of owning their own lives, the underdogs unwilling to climb the hoops of corporate bureaucracy, the simple and unassuming who cringe in the aisles of big-box stores and can’t understand the allure of a Porsche minivan – it is time to forge ourselves new lifestyles, new economies, new politics: new cultures.

This is the point of our existing. This is not for ourselves, it is for humankind.

May love and liberty keep us free.

 

 

What’s Worth It in Life

The only thing in life that’s ‘worth it’ is a possibility, a foggy dream of a desired future. It’s a possibility because you can adjust and recreate the probability of this possible future by sheer will, focus, determination, and faith that the future is malleable – excited, fervent, indomitable love for the only possible future desired: my wife and I will have a simple house in the woods with solar panels and we’ll raise our two kids and take-in several foster kids, and we’ll grow our own food, we’ll be frugal and active in our community. I’ll have a successful writing career, spend hours reading Sartre and Kierkegaard. We’ll volunteer at soup-kitchens, food-drives, cook for our neighbors when hard times visit. This is what’s worth 70 hour work weeks, lack of sleep, hunger, and never a chance to sit.

Self Erosion

The wind tells you to run, to love and to explore. The wind tells you to remember that every autumn the leaves fall, and are swept away. The wind speaks of tumbleweed and of cold seasides, sand swept. The wind tells of atmospheric pressures and thermal convection, weather patterns cycling for 3 billion years. The wind can still feel pushes of ancient asteroids, the wing-beats of pterodactyls. The wind knows the slice of arrows, the birth of airplanes, and is still unsure what to think of the taste of radio-signals. The wind has smashed ships into rocks, planes into water, and washed civilizations under desert sand. The wind wants you to know it enjoys this, and the wind wants to remind you – just like a sandstone cliff, you too will erode.

New Jersey Hometown

The area of New Jersey I grew up in isn’t colloquially known as The Socio-Economic Smorgasbord of the East Coast because you’ll choke trying to get the entire phrase out, but it is an accurate accolade.

I grew up in a mostly-white, middle-class Jewish neighborhood. Hassidic temple-migrations every Saturday, largely working-class, high property taxes, in the foothills of Appalachia. Ten minutes up the road and the hills are even more wooded, leaving the working-class for million dollar estates. This is also mostly-white. Go ten minutes the other direction, downtown flattens out, the lots are smaller, lower- to lower-middle class, less Jews, more Irish and Italians and Hispanics, respectively-styled eateries everywhere. Ten more minutes to the mini-urban area of Hispanic immigrants, day laborers and empanadas, World’s best Chinese food, and pizza. Another ten minutes east – massive Indian IT community. Ten minutes west – blue-collar back-hills with lots of spare truck parts and mechanical know-how.

Junior year of high school the morning announcements included the miraculous milestone of Hispanics inching out Europeans for biggest ethnic group. Walk to my locker in high school, nothing but Spanish.

There’s a pizzeria owned a Hungarian family, another by a Portuguese family, another by a Peruvian couple.

The area lost a lot of houses during the Recession. Those who had the most trouble paying property taxes were the first to go, and the people who are buying these foreclosed homes are doubling, even tripling the sizes of the homes. The poorest are being pushed out, the richer moving in. Smack in the center of New Jersey, it’s still hills and woods and blue-collar from fifty years ago when the area had nothing but mines and quarries. There’s still a rifle range in the basement of the high school.

Journal Entry, Ten Years From Now

Dated, 4/16/25

I don’t know why I continue to bother any longer. My wife resents me, I’m suspicious my son does as well, and all I get is a burning frustration that every story I’ve written has been written poorly. This has always been my greatest fear, that I find myself old and beyond my prime, looking back at everything I’ve sacrificed and wondering if I have squandered dozens of opportunities to find success at something other than fiction. I still believe I’m smart, intelligent, knowledgeable, but I realize now, only now, that for years I’ve lost faith in the belief that propelled me, with excitement, as a youth – that existence is a course of possibilities and that by focus and dedication, by constant struggle, the will can pull its desired possibility into reality. And now when I think of this I see only failed attempts, mired in inability to try hard enough, constant distractions I allowed myself to be strayed by. My wife is cold and spiteful, my son distant, closed off, and the worst sinking feeling is the thought that I too resent them for having come between me and my dream. All I see are mistakes, jobs I should’ve quit to spend ten hours daily typing, misguided priorities putting a pretty house and furnishings before the dedication I knew I needed to put into my writing.

I’m going to leave. For the first time in 20 years I am going to abandon everyone who loves me, everything I know, all of my comforts and everything I resent. I am going to hitchhike, I am going to blog the road. I am finally going to let myself drown in misery, drink, and the dream which has always haunted me.

Do I Stand Up To Injustice?

Outside of a larger obsession that evil people are destroying the world, I cannot think of a single example of myself speaking-up for another person. I can’t even put together a moment where I saw an injustice taking place, let alone an injustice where I even briefly considered standing up for the person(s) being abused. I can’t rule out, either, an intentional forgetting of idleness in the face of injustice. It may be that I’ve silently stood by several times as people were treated like shit, and have subconsciously erased these moments from my mind to protect a self-image that values its virtuous masculinity.

I can at the least say I’ve stood by while kids were picked-on by my friends, who usually even picked-on one another, but I was a quiet, unassuming kid. I still maintain aversions to confrontation, just out of cowardice towards personal trauma, though I do believe I’ve lost some this to nihilism – there’s no real detriment to anyone or anything if you get your skull bruised.

A few years back at a volunteer fire station, a friend called the younger black volunteer a nigger. The young black man was over 6″ and at least 250lbs of bulk, and could have easily stood up for himself – that, plus not knowing what the usual dynamic between them was, gave me enough justification to ignore the affront. I sometimes think about this in tandem with another incident involving the same individual. We were on the same school bus, and after he’d gotten off, someone else had spit out the bus window at him, saying a similar racial slur. 

For your general offenses against society, such as destruction of property, antagonizing authorities, property theft – for these injustices, I’m easily coaxed to participate.