We're a set of clothes with no bodies
Cause schools brainwashed
loves trampled us
six feet under with
with our hearts and minds
turned to dust
parents lied and educators suck
unable to teach us real-life skills
like love is tough
so we're still
Living for paychecks
for those who feel like us,
A set of clothes with no bodies
Maybe we can remember we have souls
and not our remedial schools, undying loves, deceitful parents, and bi-weekly paychecks
Can take that away from us.
Rewind this memoir back to my first foster home. I’m reclining on the couch in the living room watching Superman, a whatever's-on-tv-saturday-afternoon-movie. "Give A Little Bit" played from the soundtrack. The Supertramp song reached out from the screen and into my own complicated teen-aged life. Oh the words of that song blindsided me, hit me hard in the chest with a sad yearning, an emotion I had ignored forever like that elephant in the room too big to push out the door. Because life was so hard, too hard, and lonely on and on, and the world gives only just enough that you keep breathing, but you wonder why. Yes, please someone give just a little....
But at the time I hadn't known anything else and I just stuffed that overwhelming sad lonely feeling. Too much need wears out a welcome in someone else's home. It seemed most everyone else had family, security, some money for perhaps things like a pair of cleats to run in school track if you have the desire. Its called belonging or opportunity and I was acutely aware I wouldn't have it.
Fast forward 25 years; business for my glass art studio is rewarding. I live in Cleveland, or what I called Purgatory. I like the city though; I think the motto should be "Its Not That Bad." A tough steel town, unpretentious to a fault, tenacious, it inspired the Clean Water Act because the river was so polluted it caught on fire. People who live there just don't quit, except that the biggest export is young people. The streets are eerily empty, the quiet steel mills are epic sculptures of rust. But its not that bad. Now they make a tasty beer called Burning River. Sometimes they gamble on unconventional ideas because they've reached the end of status-quo. One can even surf there, when the wind blows a Nor'easter in the fall, just before the lake freezes. The wave break is nicknamed "Sewer Pipe"; one can imagine why.
I biked with a club there; cycling part of my life-blood. Life was pretty good, blessed with measures of contentment and happiness and family, even through so many challenges. Except I'm stuck pedaling a trainer in the basement most of the long winter. It was during an endless, gray February that I was inspired by an idea: a Velodrome. Its one of those banked tracks people in America only see during the Olympics. Cover it, and people could have a bicycle park all year-round with palm trees in the winter, in Cleveland. Its a blast of a sport with serious American heritage. A velodrome is a place where all a kid has to do is show up and with enough heart he or she can make it to the Olympics. They wouldn't need money, just 100% heart. It would be the kind of opportunity I didn't have when I was a kid.
So I decided to take on the responsibility to build one... not to be afraid of the price tag, or how to do it, or let a label like "disabled veteran with a head injury" daunt me. I figured my role was to get the project started and motivate others to do other parts. I decided not to discuss my shortcomings, introduce myself with that label, or use it as a disclaimer. As many times as I wished I had a chalkboard sign around my neck saying, Please excuse the mess, I had to tell myself it was not an excuse.
There would need to be many others; but the fact that I knew only a dozen people on the planet didn't stop me either. Two people inspired me. Kyle MacDonald had a dream to barter a paper clip for something better, trading that for something else, anything else, until he had a house. I thought I could start with an old laptop, a couple thousand dollars, and my idea. I'd work to leverage each bit of progress, not knowing what they were yet. Thats how anything gets done, right? Erik Weihenmayer is a blind alpine mountain climber, conquering even Everest. He didn’t let anyone convince him what he couldn’t do, and didn’t let impairments keep him from his goal. He didn't let blindness, the fact that he couldn't see the top as well as others, make the goal any less enjoyable for himself. Also, there’s no way he could have done it without help.
There are no business plans for a Velodrome or someone else would have built more of them already. I'm good at figuring things out, what with having to relearn things all the time. I don't quit because that has never seemed to be an option. Resourcefulness is my middle name, having to put my life back together every year or so. Certainly the project was eccentric but as an artist I've never really cared about what others thought. I certainly didn't have a reputation for sanity to maintain. Professionally, I’ve had experience with so many factors of development: from paperwork at the back end as a Project Assistant, to designing it as a Mechanical Drafter, to constructing it as a Steel Detailer. I understood this project.
Every time I discovered something needed to be done, I'd figure out how to do it. I took an online tutorial and put together a website, attended communication seminars for better speaking skills, learned how to recruit a Board of Directors, took classes for fundraising, won a few grants, and started a non-profit. I had to buy a couple of suits for meetings. I kept hoping someone who knew what they were doing would take over, but that never seemed to materialize. What I thought would be a few months turned into several hard years of work, learning new things on the fly like politics, business etiquette, computer programs, how to understand and write financials and business plans for stadiums.
It felt like cramming for finals, taking exams for classes I never attended. I didn’t just burn my candle on both ends, I was torching it in the middle too. Every challenge I had ever gone through seemed like it was a preparation for this one. Many times I wondered if it was all for nothing; so many dead ends and frustrations and years where the project was barely on life-support. Mistakes and wrong turns making people mad, losing faith in me. Would it ever really happen? I kept imagining what my bike wheels would look like under my handlebars as if I was ridiing on the track, listening to the same particular songs on my ipod for motivation.
A small tangent here, a digression back to the fifth grade and my favorite teacher. He was about as tall as his students. Mr.A (our nickname for Mr. Anderson) was a barrel-chested little person but I didn't notice it till years later because he was so cool. He was the first teacher, the first person actually, who encouraged me to be myself. I was a little kid, a couple years advanced and bright enough to be skipped again. Tthat would have been ridiculous since I was already too small. I would get my work done early in class, and he would let me spend time doing whatever, encouraging my creativity. I distinctly remember making little scale models of parks out of construction paper. I would start by making a rectangular tray, and then fill it in with ponds, benches, and oval or figure-8 tracks for bicycles, elevated roller-coaster paths for walking. It was my way of creating a whimsical place that felt good in my difficult life. No lie, I was building bicycle tracks when I was 9. That memory faded away until I was several years into the actual Velodrome project, trying create a light-hearted park on the edge of a ghetto. This was my life's ultimate Art Project; made with wood, steel, and tenacity. It made me wonder about a life's purpose... still just a what if... but cruel if there wasn't anything to it.
There is a necessary role for the dreamer. Visionaries help to break status quo, introduce new solutions. Sorting through the banal with unique perspective, the random is reassembled into intriguing newness. What is creative nature? Is it obsession to improve things, the need for approval, resourcefulness within limits, or perspective outside boundaries? Is it tenacity to the point of obsession, focus to the point of selfishness?
Thankfully, a few devoted people did take over after a few years and worked hard to raise the serious money. In 2012, Phase 1 of the Cleveland Velodrome opened to the public. Presently they are raising funds for Phase 2 to cover it. By chance I was there the day the track was finished and got a chance to ride it. All I wanted to do was one thing: listen to those songs on my ipod and see my wheels under the handlebars on the track... in reality. I didn't want to race or be recognized at some celebration. I just wanted to ride a few laps, happy just to have a role in building it. In less than a year there are already training programs, youth cycling classes, and teams competing. Through community grants and volunteers, its all free to anyone under 18.
Not to be forgotten, some thanks should go to one supportive teacher who helped a scrappy kid dream. Schools measure math and science so valuable, for good reason. But this favors one brain’s side of thinking. Initiating and working for the construction of an urban renewal project and improving a neighborhood is traceable to the exact same idea assembled with clumsy school scissors, white glue, and construction paper, during 5th grade free time.
I can't wait to hear the news of some tough kid from East Cleveland getting to the Olympics.
Beginning every sentence with an I instead
Of what captures itself inside of schools
Clenched so deeply down
A confusion that sees past you
You just couldn't speak deep enough with a dark blue
A limp that judges every time she sighs
It's fucked up how everyone knows how to be happy
But chooses something that withstands habits like how hereditary genes stay consistent in bunny rabbits
Such a muscle to flex, an obligation to match
It flexed inward, but looking back
There were hints of being watched
From getting beaten up in a grocery store parking lot
To the happiest days of my life
It hits home like feet balancing on trim finish
Just can't get the fill from our fetish
Only signets of animalistic trends
That spread so far out, we lost control of them
Sought out lots of intros to make sad songs sounds better to a deafened ear.
The sheer thought ripped as a whole from every exit sign
And there have always been a lot of ways out
But only a few
To crumble back into you
Only a few to calm leaked presences
Writing a story that reeks of confusion
And reads like molten
Designs and Equations
Was it the Virgin Void filling
or Pandora's box opening?
Was it Victoria's secret
or was it the intellect of victors?
Was it the prowess of Hector/Hercules was it?
Was it the influence of Arthur or Har-Thor was it?
What shapes this world?
Ancient Egypt, Pyramids and the Sphinx?
Stonhenge and oblelisks?
Mystery Schools and occultism scrolls?
Crystal technology shifting poles?
Perhaps the hips and curves of a voluptuous African Queen
Perhaps the fall of Atlantis
or the secrets of the Bermuda Triangle
Perhaps the enthralling dynamics of the Photon Belt
Perhaps the mystery of Shamballa
or maybe underground bases where vortex points are
Perhaps the missing Eyepods
Maybe ancient and present advanced civilizations
Maybe it was the fall of Mars or the destruction of Maldek
Maybe the hope of Terra par DOMA
Or a design from distant super universes
or the amphibian watchers of myths
Maybe you, maybe me, maybe we
The I I I I I's of this world
however our eyes blind for we ruin this world
If we looked long enough at the light would we burn out?
If we truly listened could we hear the music of the verses unison - universes created by the Divine Creator?
would we join it/him/ness? Would we hear then Sophia being played as a harp and worlds conceived
Would we see a billion pictures as the cosmos are breathed?
and Karma come to be...
Would we learn of all life forms? Would we learn that there is more structural design than form? Would we learn that there are other mediums of activity apart from life?
Would we learn that structure is part of a larger paradigm of concentrated design?
Would we learn that universes are gardens and that there are worlds beyond the multiverse based on a hill and mountain orientation not dependant on planes?
Who shapes the world?
Our Souls from the ocean of love reincarnating?
The keepers of sacred knowledge at the temples of Golden Wisdom?
Walk-ins and starseeds? Cryptids and hybrids?
Wars or the Sun? The Peoples of the Moon or the base in Venus? The underground bases of Mars or The Order of The Phoenix?
Maybe royal and mob families?
Maybe government with all its true lies
Maybe the networks sustained by the simple minds of you and I
Whoever or whatever is responsible, either through sonic beams and energy manipulation, it is not so much the power of the Empire but rather the power we surrender.
Every country needs some nourishment,
if it ever plans to grow.
Just like a child wants to strive,
for independence to flow.
Lots of people want your cash,
so there country will achieve.
But by helping other countries,
your own you will deceive.
Our country is the best of all,
when it comes to government.
But if we have so much to spare,
then what does the poor represent?
Schools and medical are second best,
with unemployment rates so high.
This is in the country,
where we live and die.
If we really want to help someone,
then let us help our own.
Because there's people in this land,
with no where to call home.
Some people in society complains about everything and anything.
We see some complains about Merry Christmas.
But want you to recognize them when their holiday's comes around.
Some people complains about bibles being handed out in schools.
But even if they are you have the right to refuse.
Some people just loves to be on the news.
Some people complains about big government.
But nothing forever stays small.
You adjust to your political unrest.
Only a few politicians give their best.
Some people complains about their child.
Some children' complains about their parents.
But that's life.
We're not perfect in anyway
From each perspective mistakes will be made.
It's love for one another that gets us through the day.
We all find things to speak negative about.
It's just up to us to figure things out.
Nola was so Goddamn tired of the people around here. Maybe it had something to do with growing up with them. The people sitting around her in Mr. Mitzi's classroom were the same kids she recalled meeting on her first day of kindergarten. If that weren’t enough, there were also the kids that were forced upon her when the elementary schools all joined together to experience the fucking magical transition known as middle school. During that time, you’re really not anything. Much like high school, actually…college, too. Sure, everyone likes to pretend they’re an adult. If they really wanted to, they could move out of their parent’s house and support themselves completely by way of their, like, completely original marijuana bakery. If you thought brownies were badass, wait until you tried their gourmet weedies…chronicakes…pot pies (I mean, seriously. Baking puns are an untapped resource. BAKING. Bah-dum-chhhh.)
“When I move to the West Coast after graduation, those L.A. hipsters won’t know what hit ‘em. Imma be a triple threat, like Jay,” Nola overhead one of her delusional classmates predict.
“Have you seen my Youtube, doe? That shit is up to 100K,” he continued, addressing an invisible audience.
Definitely, winner. Avoid talking about the rap game when trying to convince momma and daddy to cosign for your apartment. You Computer Science major, you ;)
But really, Nola had no room to judge. She was about to risk a whole lot of everything. For what? A dream, like prepubescent Jay? You could say that. Getting away from this place would be enough, she thought.
*Edit: Would like to add that this is a rough rough draft. Like, I-wrote-this-in-10-minutes-whilst-drunk rough.*
Barbie+ has bigger tits
Airfix-lite in smaller kits
I smashed it into little bits
I smashed it in a thousand ways
The work of several boring days
Mummy, Daddy, Someone pays
your Coke, your Cake, your Hair
Their little ones go off to schools
They learn to hate to learn the rules
Some are clever, some are fools
Some are put in aftercare
Maintain the game a Second Stage
The time has come to come of age
As your brain begins to disengage
To think of Dirty things instead
But you'll be up and out of bed
Not repressed and not misled
To get your way, to go ahead
To make a stand and have your say
Look back on it all one day
In a strangling tie, a suit of grey
This is the spot where you landed
The circumstances you were handed
Just like School but now rebranded:
Christopher Munro 2013 www.sundaywrap.blogspot.co.uk
I feel out of place in this town
when people talk about the world and everything that’s going down.
Just because you’ve traveled to different places
doesn’t mean you know what’s like to live in a place where the majority of the people don’t have white faces.
People think I’m a “city kid” and that may be,
but I come from somewhere drenched with poverty.
Somewhere where you can’t leave your ipod in your car
without someone smashing your windows for it with no regards to who you are.
If someone pulls out a knife,
give them what they want because it’s not as valuable as your life.
Don’t press charges either if you have any sense
because they have scary people who can overpower your self defense.
Be happy you live in such a rural town
because I’m happy to get out of the ghetto environment that was all around.
People are nicer, schools are better, classes are a lot more small,
no risk of knocking into someone in the hall
and having them pushing you to the ground,
and shout things that are profound.
This is just a nicer environment than where I come from.
“I like to pretend that sometimes” I said. He looked at me, in a way as though asking why or how without the desire to physically say the words.
“What I mean is that sometimes I like to pretend you were my first, instead of your older boy summer romance cliche. I don't know why though. Maybe I want to keep a bit of you with me when you leave. I think that when I’m old, or even just in college I’ll tell people how I lost my virginity to my bestfriend and how special it was. Maybe after I tell enough people I’ll even start to believe it too. Not that Michael isn't sumptuous or anything. Maybe its because when I tell people that story I’ll leave them with piece of you, and you’re great.”
He snapped the last of the bowl and kinda just sat there with a weird expression. It wasn't confusion or even melancholy. He seemed upset over something. “That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me,” he said.
“It won’t always be.”
I didn't feel sad, or happy, or angry with the silence. It was cold that night and we both kind of just sat there looking at the bright Los Angeles skyline we were so used to. He packed another bowl but I was done smoking for the night. Perhaps he didn't realize I’d been dying to tell that to him for a while. Killing myself thinking about him. Maybe I loved him, then, truth be told, I didn't know. I felt empty. Like I’d just thrown up everything I’d eaten that day. My head was as blank as the smoke coming from his mouth. He slowly put his arm around me and kissed me that way you see in movies. The way your friends sometimes talk about but you don’t really understand until it happens. He then put the bong down and fell on my lap. I quietly ran my fingers through his hair. Then he said, “Did I ever tell you about this fantastic girl whose virginity I took in the schools parking lot?”