The Prosaic Wall – Part Two (Short Story)

 

Part One

 


 

“Isn’t a bit early for that…” I grumbled aloud at the strong cigarette odor that had roused me from the haze of sleep.

It was then that I realized the bed I occupied wasn’t a fold-out couch in a grungy little house. I was damp with dew.

And rather unnervingly the voice did not belong to Gwen.

I was now wide awake.

“Did you just hear something?” A deep Yankee brogue carried clearly through the wall that had served as my pillow.

“You’re just nervous…” Another voice this time completely foreign. The clipped brassy accent reminding me of my Taiwanese room-mate.

“You betcha…”

“Oh, come on Peter…this…I thought you’d be used to it by now…” This time it was a woman. The first native sounding voice I’d heard.

I’m not exactly sure why I found this conversation disturbing. Despite the impossibility of being seen I shielded the screen of my flip phone as I checked the time.

It was 3:22 AM. I hated these neat little numbers. I always…always happened to look at a watch or odometer and see 3:33, 9:11, 808. A sort of luck and distaste that would eventually find me in a psych ward. But that and Crowley’s little book is a tale for another time.

True terror is not supernatural.

I did not want to be here. I was cold and damp and really hated the little international meeting just a walls length behind my back.

“I don’t like the new supply…”

A chill ran up my spine.

“Hold up Lee…are you sure about Dietrich…?”

“As sure as I can be.”

“You’re nervous tonight Pete…” Came the woman’s voice. “What’s up…? Having second thoughts…you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to…just don’t you know…kiss and tell…”

“No, no nothing like that…”

“Then what..?”

“The same damn SUV…dark blue…I kept seeing it for a good hundred miles on I77.”

“Probably just a family goin back home or visiting relatives…”

There was a pause.

“I first saw the damned thing just outside Columbus.”

“Hmm…so you think that we’ve been followed?”

Pete…the Yankee voice…sighed. “I don’t know.”

“Well, where did you last see it?”

“Not sure exactly but…it was past Charlotte.”

“Shit…” The woman hissed. “Well…I thin…”

A sharp electric beep cut through the predawn dark.

It was so loud. What the hell could that be…

The conversation had ceased.

I heard the beep again and this time I realized its source.

It was the low battery alert.

“Secure the goods Rachel…” the voice of ‘Lee’ dictated in a loud whisper. Before I heard the shuffling of feet.

At this point…adrenaline set in and my presence of mind reached absolute zero.

Instead of just pulling the battery out and hightailing it back home through the woods I threw it.

I watched the dark blur arc its way over the gravel road and land soundlessly among underbrush in the clay clearing at the edge of the wood.

The adrenaline made me move. Which was good. Because just as I had made my way up the length of the wall and thrown myself down into a prone position I heard first one then two pairs of feet land directly on the spot that I’d just evacuated.

I heard whispers and then off in the distance by the edge of the wood I heard a distinct electronic beep.


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The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 4.4 – Bleached

Image result for celestial sphere


“What people forget, you see, is that it’s a world.” Said Captain Reed between mouthfuls of strawberry shortcake.

Everyone was silent. I sipped my coffee and wondered what he was getting at.

“Everybody…thinks…they ‘know’…so they get sad…because they ‘know’…and so they’re bored…” The captain’s massive brow furrowed.

It would have been frightening had he not started laughing.

“What the hell is there to know? How is there anything to know…that’s a much better question I think yeah?”

Us newcomers sat bewildered as the crew nodded assent. Making me wonder if it was agreement or appeasement…or both.

A massive fist smacked the table making the china jump. I winced as scalding coffee landed right on that little space between the thumb and index finger.

“A perfect little sphere…just spinning…round a nuclear reaction…how why…a thought that rarely enters the mind of man these days…”

No one dared to interrupt the monologue.

“It’s a wuuuuuh eeeerrrrrrrrr eld!” The grey eyes bulged. “A world …whirl…whirling and tumbling between twisted stars in a pitch darker than any ocean depth.”

I wasn’t really sure how the conversation started. What was the origin of this tirade? I really had trouble remembering. I was so sleepy. I’d lost my sea legs nearly half a decade ago and the swaying of the craft produced a slightly nauseating soporific sensation.

“I tell you! If I were to grab that kneck of yours and sueeeeeze. I mean not even very hard….that’s it…! That would be all for you. No shortcake…no Genevive…no childhood to color the years that would have come with wisdom…just flesh with fresh shit in the britches. Isn’t it amazing…isn’t it downright uncanny?”

This would have been offputting had we not by now grown accustomed to the Captain’s moody homilies.

“And yet…you wear britches! Why! Because Adam was embarrassed all those years ago… Most likely not. But….even so…how much the better! Because…you can wonder at it…the folly of such literalism…isn’t it mad…isn’t it whirling..?”

I now recalled why Reed had erupted. Chuck had casually blurted one of his usual sarcasms. Leo had been chattering excitedly about the revolutionary nature of recent discoveries in the Amazon. Chuck loved to exercise his capacity for acerbic skepticism regarding all things redolent of woo. Especially revolutionary woo.

The Captain smirked.

“Looking a bit pale there Charles…”

Chuck remained silent.

“I’m telling you..I’m telling you the truth…I’m infinitely tamer than what lies beneath the salty sway…if these simple truths I’ve spoken have drained you…I tell ya…you’re about to be downright bleached…



1.1 (Intro) The Sketch of Sam Monroe

1.2 The Cajun Prayer

1.3 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter One: The Cambridge Gable Scene (‘Gator is Waitin’)

1.4 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.4 – The Cambridge Gable Scene – (Horticulture)

1.5 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.5: ‘To Luckadoo Cove’

1.6 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.6 – ‘Is there anybody out there…’

1.7 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.7: ‘Jesse’

1.8 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.8: ‘Lungful of Bees’

1.9 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.9 – ‘Precedent’

2.0 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.0 -Calvinist Neuroses

2.1 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.1 – Mirage

2.2 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.2 – Estate Planning

2.3 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.3 – High Tech Summons

2.4 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.4 – Amazon Stonehenge

2.5 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.5 – Jung

2.6 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.6 – Dee

2.7 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.7 – Meeting 211

2.8 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.8 – Itinerary

2.9 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.9 – Fact and Fiction

2.10 Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.10 -Kaffeeklatsch

2.11 Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.11 – Catnap

2.12 Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.12 – ‘One Pair’

2.13 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.13 – Reentry

2.14 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.14 – Phoenix

2.15 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.15 – Apollo and Dionysus

3.0 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.0 – Inherit the Wind

3.1 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.1 – Stardust

3.2 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.2 – Loyola

3.3 Chapter 3.3 – High and Dry

3.4 Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.4 – One Dream

3.5 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.5 – Pensive

3.6 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.6 – Feijoada

3.7 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.7 – ‘Good food and good work…’

3.8 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.8 – A Good Egg

3.9 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.9 – Oregon Hill

3.10 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.10 – ‘Thick Bushes’

4.0 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 4.0 – No room at the Inn

4.1 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 4.1 – The Union Jack

4.2 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 4.2 – The Genevive

4.3 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 4.3 – Ecclesiastes 1:18


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Linguistic Myopia | Art as Remedy (Vlog)


You can’t fix what you can’t describe…you can’t describe what you can’t see…A brief take on a problem I’ve been trying to pin down for years.

I propose that a lot of the depression, ennui, and disaffection is due to a poor descriptive capacity.

This was take five or so and I’m thinking of uploading the very first take where I give a bit more context (but also meandered a tad overlong.)


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The Prosaic Wall – Part One (Short Story)

Image result for brick fence south carolina


I suppose that given my choice of title you are going to assume that this’ll be some sort of symbol-laden existential pontification.

Hate to disappoint but today’s story is short on that sort of trendy ennui.

The wall is not some hardly clever Floydian commentary on the barrier between the mundane and the divine.
The wall is eight feet high and composed of brick and concrete. It stands half the year baking in the Carolina sun and half the year waiting to bake in the Carolina sun with just a few temperate breezes between. There is nothing special about it.

Behind the prosaic wall, there is a prosaic neighborhood of neat brick houses that are just a touch posher than middle class. In front of this fence, there is a long gravel road. A road that is wooded where it isn’t fenced. With a clay field as the only boundary between its crunch and several miles of humid silence.

The wood was dotted here and there with tree stands. I knew this well. I knew this because I knew where every oak would make itself apparent among the swaying loblollies. Many childhood ventures both solitary and gregarious had found my sneakered feet alternating between the crunch of leaves and gravel.

Like all haunts, my old stomping ground always begged for another haunting.

I was straddling that awkward divide between my mid and late twenties. I wouldn’t describe myself as brawny but I was no longer the thin bespectacled kid with the bushy hair. Years of woodland wandering and other physical hobbies had broadened my shoulders and given fiercer sinews to my bones.
I was young strong and slightly inebriated. My buddy still resided in our childhood suburb the two or so miles from the fence. We were fond of passing balmy evenings plotting and commiserating on his family’s deck. On occasion, we’d drink to add edge to our acerbic banter.

I suppose it also helped one meld into the mellow tempo of southern life. Something that was at times difficult for somebody with a nervous disposition. It may just be my ego defending itself but I resent that. The idea that my disposition was nervous. I think it much more accurate to say that I had certain sensibilities that were a touch more keen. I was keener than Manning. Not better but keener. Which is why I always drank just a little bit more.

It was some time not long past midnight that we trooped back into the living room for a bit of fiddling on the guitar and piano. Finding that we weren’t able to lock into a groove the jam session was quickly abandoned.
Gwen was with us. It may have been her that suggested the outing but the cause was something beyond suggestion. It was an impulse that we had all felt. A certain wanderlust had blossomed in our collective subconscious. Perhaps fueled by the mixture of whiskey, coffee, and sweets. Or perhaps by the beckoning light of the spectral moon which hung so seductively visible. The round edge of its fullness teasing the corner of an open window.

Maybe tonight I’d finally be able to help my hussy. That’s the term of endearment that I’d come to ascribe wordlessly to Gwen. I’d gotten the idea from Jimmy Carr who used the word to shut down a female heckler whose romantic strategy was pretty akin to that of the dirty blonde taking a drag from her cigarette.

She was worse off than I in terms of chemistry. So I forgave her failure to acknowledge my status as her boyfriend. Verbal confirmation was desired but not demanded. After all physical confirmation wasn’t lacking. Though this left me in an odd sort of limbo I didn’t mind it most of the time. A more callous lad might suggest that I’d hit the jackpot with a girlfriend that didn’t demand commitment. But then I’m a tad romantic and besides. She did get jealous. In fact, I think her jealousy was one of the biggest sparks that had kindled the complex mess of our recent history.

Forests and the quiet magic they assume were one of my chief passions. And it was this spiritual lust rather than a pining for validation or nooky that excited me this evening. When the topic of an outing emerged I was all for it.

In fact, I likely was the author of the desire. It was I that had sustained the outings, that was ever the chief of the charge to the wood, the chairman of camping, never missing an opportunity for a ramble.

As I’ve said. I feel things a tad more keenly. I knew that the kindling was there. That the adventurous and slightly tomboyish girl that I’d known since high school was a soul as ready for salvation in the loving embrace of the great and ancient church of woodland worship as a zealot could wish.

There was something simultaneously pathetic and noble in her need to bury her keenness in the bottle and bowl. She once commented that she’d prefer to remember nothing at all. Maybe this was why we’d united. Because I wanted to remember everything. Even the most painful things and my pains far outweighed hers by an eastern bloc. I wanted to analyze and blaze and build. She was the blankness of yin and I the inky stain of yang. This notion was supported even by the color of our hair. My head was of a raven hue and hers of a vibrant reddish blonde.

It was so alchemically sound. But of course, all equations are a fiction.

But on that night I still held faith in magic. That the sight of a meadow at midnight as the quail made its quaint entreaty to the babbling brook was a prayer that would break even the strongest spell of that blasted hash strengthened nihilistic ambivalence.

As we rounded the end of the suburb, and went up the first real country road, and finally heard the rhythmic crunch of gravel beneath our feet a giddiness arose among us. All three of us were merry. Laughing amid the piney scents and pleasant breezes of an autumn night.

We danced, we sang, we praised, we blasphemed. Simultaneously wild and reverent we were feeling the vibe.

As we passed the fence and the wood to reach a truly lonesome stretch of country bordering the edge of a state park I grew happier and happier.

Yes, tonight. Tonight if on any night I’d have the neophytes affirm the faith. I could see the cascade of happiness that the union of man, earth, and soul would bring into the prematurely jaded lives of these disaffected natives of suburbia.

As night wore on and all that I could find was my clumsy tongue repeating the same caustic and acerbic jokes we’d been rehashing all evening… the chance for vespers was escaping and I grew desperate.

We were back on the gravel road. Taking the same path home as we’d taken to get to the leafy temple. The moon was so full and holy. Like a candle lit at mass.

Surely, I couldn’t let yet another night give way to a somnolent wine soaked morning.

I remarked on the balmy pleasure of the air and the merits of the moon. I remonstrated that we’d never really chewed long enough for the communion to be effective. But no, some odd collusion had risen up between them. Three is a crowd at times, it’s true.

She wanted breakfast and he wanted sleep. I desired neither. I wanted acolytes.

As I was on the verge of despair a thought flashed through my mind. Perhaps tonight was merely a preparation. One in which I could lead by example.

I affected my most stoic expression and went to sit with my back against the wall regarding the moon as a parishioner regards the upheld testament.

I told them to go on without me. That I would stay the rest of the night here to enjoy the moon and air.

They protested for a bit but upon seeing the resoluteness of the most pious gaze that I could muster left me with my God.


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The Harried Deadly Calm

 

 

Related image
Image Credit

 

 


The smell of cheap tobacco had become my home. The cigarette dropped listlessly into the green glass ashtray. Uncanny how that thin finger could imbue dead leaves with such ennui.

Thunder erupted from beyond the kitchen door. Outside a large window, the swaying of limbs in summer air was barely perceptible as silhouette. Their shrouded prophecy of rain a stark contrast to the electric yellow of our lamp.

Thumbing the side of a ginny tumbler I thought of shutting the door. The pitter of drops had made a timpani of the glass. Yet there was something so refreshing about the damp expectation of storm that had sauntered through the darkened doorframe.

That and the black long haired cat that had made a bed of my wingtips kept me at my post. I pulled another Pall Mall from it’s green and white casket. Having lit it… I looked at her.

Her eyes rose from the sketchpad to meet mine. We were wordless.

Lightning struck, allowing me a glimpse of the yard beyond the door, and a brighter version of those blue orbs.

“Don’t do that.”

I searched my mind as to what she could mean.

“Do what?”

Her pen rose, directed at me, like a pistol.

“That!” A loud whisper shot into my mind.

I tilted my head and exhaled. My eyes remaining affixed to hers.

“That evil thing.”

“Look at a dork?”

She shook her head. “No, that bad…magic.”

I still wasn’t sure what she meant. Though it didn’t matter. An allegro wind had walked its way on breezy legs and placed a leaf on her shoulder.

I liked the delicate way her neck met that shoulder. That discarded bit of tree was the finest jewel she could have ornamented.

“Let’s go…”

The thunder had strengthened the rain.

“Out there…?”

Her answer was to rise and exit.

I sat for a brief spell with a blank mind. My shifting foot gently removed the furry leg warmer and I followed.

The rain was cool. I felt it hit my face and tasted it on my tongue.

The night sang in strange notes of ancient expectation. Mystic music carried by the odd punctuation of a beatless thunder that nonetheless spoke rhythm.

We began to dance. Whether her or I…I do not know.

We danced with abandon in worry-free ecstasy as skyborne cataclysm embraced our daring.

Everything held the freshness of a peach. Her face had become alabaster as a Grecian statue.

She spun and landed in my arms.

For the first time since I’d summoned her from my past, we kissed.

All that had led to this, that had led to our existence, to our presence here in the meter of some divinely witless symphony, blessing the union of clumsy lips with kisses of its own.

As we stood forever in the harried deadly calm.


P.S. Don’t actually dance in a thunderstorm. It’s dumb.

The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 4.3 – Ecclesiastes 1:18

Image result for pacific ocean


There is a peculiar phenomenon common to all Pacific coasts. This volcanic anomaly is dubbed the Ring of Fire. It’s what was responsible for the Galapagos. And according to everything I had been able to gather in the first couple of days we were headed to a spot just beyond its reach.

May was approaching and this made me nervous. The balmy calm though pleasant was frankly creepy in light of the knowledge that made little electric pulses travel up my spine.

I stood on the deck surrounded by nothing but vast plains of water. Like a liquid Nebraska, the unbounded horizons were alien in their spartan invariability, silent and starkly unnerving.

Yes. The crew exuded competence, the captain was likely some offspring of Erikson, and the ship was as solid as one could wish.

But, here in the limitless dizzying melding of blues, such assurance wouldn’t suffice. Crews as bold and ships just as sturdy had melted down beneath the mocking tickle of the waves that lapped The Genevives hull.

As if reading my mind Captain Reed strode up beside me, “Don’t worry, Typhoons generally tend to stick closer to Australia.

I knew that he was right. That no tropical cyclone had ever affected the Pacific side of the continent we’d just left behind. But somehow…

I felt Lauren’s long fingers tickle the back of my neck. She was very touchy-feely in that possessive way that I generally associated with cats.

It wasn’t sexiness that gave her the peculiar power she seemed to wield over nearly everyone aboard but the sheer force of her femininity.

“What’s the matter? Navy man afraid of the water…?”

“Boys aren’t afraid of girls till their first divorce. Same applies to the sea.”

“So you’d prefer a bore, a housewife, something tame…?” She teased as her large grey-blue eyes danced mirthfully.

“I’d prefer someone who’s not a psycho,” I responded. “That right there,” I extended a hand toward the placid water sparkling in the pleasant warmth of midnoon sun. “Never lasts.”

Reed was impassable, calmly surveying the horizon, there was no deciphering his opinion. I honestly didn’t care if these folks thought me yellow. If they were as salt soaked as their ease suggested, they knew, as well as I that NOAA and 1200 years of seamanship were so much chaff, at the mercy of a schizophrenic wind.

We all turned at the sound of footsteps. Eric Chen the youthful geological oceanographer from Kaohsiung kindly informed us that lunch was ready.


1.1 (Intro) The Sketch of Sam Monroe

1.2 The Cajun Prayer

1.3 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter One: The Cambridge Gable Scene (‘Gator is Waitin’)

1.4 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.4 – The Cambridge Gable Scene – (Horticulture)

1.5 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.5: ‘To Luckadoo Cove’

1.6 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.6 – ‘Is there anybody out there…’

1.7 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.7: ‘Jesse’

1.8 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.8: ‘Lungful of Bees’

1.9 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.9 – ‘Precedent’

2.0 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.0 -Calvinist Neuroses

2.1 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.1 – Mirage

2.2 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.2 – Estate Planning

2.3 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.3 – High Tech Summons

2.4 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.4 – Amazon Stonehenge

2.5 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.5 – Jung

2.6 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.6 – Dee

2.7 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.7 – Meeting 211

2.8 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.8 – Itinerary

2.9 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.9 – Fact and Fiction

2.10 Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.10 -Kaffeeklatsch

2.11 Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.11 – Catnap

2.12 Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.12 – ‘One Pair’

2.13 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.13 – Reentry

2.14 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.14 – Phoenix

2.15 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.15 – Apollo and Dionysus

3.0 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.0 – Inherit the Wind

3.1 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.1 – Stardust

3.2 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.2 – Loyola

3.3 Chapter 3.3 – High and Dry

3.4 Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.4 – One Dream

3.5 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.5 – Pensive

3.6 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.6 – Feijoada

3.7 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.7 – ‘Good food and good work…’

3.8 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.8 – A Good Egg

3.9 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.9 – Oregon Hill

3.10 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.10 – ‘Thick Bushes’

4.0 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 4.0 – No room at the Inn

4.1 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 4.1 – The Union Jack

4.2 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 4.2 – The Genevive


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The Schlossberg Fractal (Vlog Version)


For those who have already read the article version: this is basically a video recap of the main themes. The only new information is a story from my high school days about how a kid shared an unpopular (and sadly true) opinion about the death of one of my friends and ended up with a mob outside his house.

While the observation that a lot of adult behavior, unfortunately, hasn’t evolved past adolescent hijinks isn’t new. I feel it necessary to grind the old hurdy-gurdy till Schubert rises from his grave in protest. Maybe then they’ll listen.

In the meantime….

Dieskau!



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The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 4.2 – The Genevive

Type 751 Planet
Forschungsschiff „Planet“-Klasse (751)

The Genevive was large enough to support sixty-five people. With an endurance of two or so months. The German Navy’s newest toy, a SWATH hulled behemoth dubbed Planet, could only carry about forty personnel. This vessel didn’t seem to have much of a size advantage on the Kraut’s paramilitary cod-piece. A thing that impressed me because it suggested an incredibly efficient use of space.

The crew consisted of six scientists, a couple of students, four cooks, and several dozen more personnel with various nautical responsibilities. The number of people aboard before we joined was 53, with the six of us tagging along, 59.

Despite being only six members shy of carrying capacity it was by no means cramped. There was no awkward bumping of elbows in narrow hallways or harrying on deck.

Though our cabins were far from cavernous, they were certainly roomier than what I had expected.

I was very curious as to how all this was funded and even more curious about Frank Reed.

It was, in fact, the proprietor and captain of the ship that had ferried us aboard. He had that simultaneous boisterousness and reserve I’ve come to associate with successful eccentrics. He was as silent as the sky before a storm until the thunder rumbled and lightning struck.

Not to say that he was meanspirited. His thundering was usually effervescent excitement and the lightning a scintillating wit.

There was also something vaguely martial in his bearing. It sometimes seemed like the wispy strands of near shoulder-length hair were an ironic mask meant to soften the impression of the insurmountable determination of his lantern jaw. The thick brow and broad nose were suggestive of a primeval savage. There was something of the Neanderthal in Frank Reed, something of the paleolithic hunter as he noiselessly stalked his domain, surveying his kingdom from a height of no less than six and a half feet.

Leo’s description of diving in the Galapagos was misleading. The site of whatever surprise he had in store for us was several thousand miles to the southwest of San Cristobal.

At twelve knots this meant a journey of nearly a week, just to reach the destination. The return trip would be equivalent. There must be something really vital out in these Pacific waters. I was positively giddy with excitement.


1.1 (Intro) The Sketch of Sam Monroe

1.2 The Cajun Prayer

1.3 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter One: The Cambridge Gable Scene (‘Gator is Waitin’)

1.4 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.4 – The Cambridge Gable Scene – (Horticulture)

1.5 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.5: ‘To Luckadoo Cove’

1.6 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.6 – ‘Is there anybody out there…’

1.7 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.7: ‘Jesse’

1.8 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.8: ‘Lungful of Bees’

1.9 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 1.9 – ‘Precedent’

2.0 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.0 -Calvinist Neuroses

2.1 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.1 – Mirage

2.2 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.2 – Estate Planning

2.3 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.3 – High Tech Summons

2.4 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.4 – Amazon Stonehenge

2.5 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.5 – Jung

2.6 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.6 – Dee

2.7 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.7 – Meeting 211

2.8 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.8 – Itinerary

2.9 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.9 – Fact and Fiction

2.10 Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.10 -Kaffeeklatsch

2.11 Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.11 – Catnap

2.12 Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.12 – ‘One Pair’

2.13 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.13 – Reentry

2.14 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.14 – Phoenix

2.15 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 2.15 – Apollo and Dionysus

3.0 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.0 – Inherit the Wind

3.1 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.1 – Stardust

3.2 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.2 – Loyola

3.3 Chapter 3.3 – High and Dry

3.4 Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.4 – One Dream

3.5 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.5 – Pensive

3.6 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.6 – Feijoada

3.7 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.7 – ‘Good food and good work…’

3.8 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.8 – A Good Egg

3.9 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.9 – Oregon Hill

3.10 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 3.10 – ‘Thick Bushes’

4.0 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 4.0 – No room at the Inn

4.1 The Sketch of Sam Monroe – Chapter 4.1 – The Union Jack


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The Schlossberg Fractal

Image result for aaron schlossberg


I run a website called The Fractal Journal.

So I tend to see things fractally.

Everyone does. Because everyone understands that no action occurs in a vaccum and is thus inherently multifaceted.

There’s a New York attorney called Aaron Schlossberg who was recently the subject of much controversy.

He took issue with some employees at an eatery. The issue was that they spoke Spanish. He went on a bit of a rant about how he as an American pays for the welfare of these potentially illegal immigrants. That they should speak English etc.

This tirade went viral. The publicity caused Schlossberg so much professional damage that he was even at risk of being disbarred.

This little episode has so many implications that I feel it would be irresponsible for me as a writer and citizen to pass it up.

First, it is demonstrative of a great many things. The impact of social media, the by now tiresome talking point of political polarization, and the nature of modern social expectations.

Let’s unpack that.

Social media is what allowed the incident to gain traction so quickly and in such numbers that it was able to put pressure on Schlossberg’s employers. Social media is also the technology that allowed those who took issue with Schlossberg’s actions to coordinate what can only be described as harrasment.

Political polarization is the fuel that powered both Schlossberg’s ire and the reaction of those seeking the destruction of both his professional and personal life. These two sides of the same coin only reach this sort of fever pitch in the presence of heavy ideological conditioning.

Social expectations today seem to include an insistence on certain points of politesse while completely flaunting general timeworn standards of civil interaction. Schlossberg said something politically unpopular in an aggressive way. Given the overwhelming abundance of casual swearing, in your face banter, and general penchant for sarcasm that permeates American society, it’s not unreasonable to assume that Schlossberg’crucifixionon likely resulted from unpopularity rather than aggression.

All these implications raise questions that I feel are essential to make.

First, social media, is it destructive and if so what can we do about it?

Like any other tool, I don’t think that social media is inherently destructive. The nature of social media seems to tend toward being a catalyst. A catalyst can produce either a favorable or unfavorable reaction. The swelling of outrage that culminated in trolling a private citizen with live Mariachi music and fiestas around his apartment can also be quelled by voices advocating for rationality.

One subcaveat of this social media thing is privacy. Is it fair to take a private citizens outburst and post it online?

Is it fair to then use this evidence to coordinate harassment?

It is true that Mr. Schlossberg was in a public area, behaving very rudely, and that people certainly have the right to film others in public. But does this make it alright for the offended to magnify the event through social media, and in essence involve the entire world in one man losing his cool?

Mr. Schlossberg was not acting civilly but he certainly wasn’t doing anything illegal.

Should we put restrictions on social media posts about private citizens controversial behavior? Should we put restrictions on using such videos to coordinate retribution. Should losing your cool or acting uncouth be so easy to shame from the rooftops?

This technology raises a lot of policy questions which seem to only increase in both number and scope.

I think that it’s a subject that will likely warrant its own article and video.

The second question then is what can be done about political polarization? I think the answer is obvious. Those of us that favor nuanced discussions need to become more vocal and advocate for rational discourse in greater numbers. The popularity of tactics like memes and trolling while fun and not necessarily out of line with the spirit of effective discourse shouldn’t be at the forefront of discourse.

The final question is related to social expectations. Both the public and employers have social expectations. Where, how, and to what extent should such expectations impact the lives of individual citizens?

Wherein does a professional get leeway to act unprofessionally? Being rude certainly falls well within the protection of the first amendment. But, companies can and do exercise the right to fire employees for misconduct. This right is also well within the bounds of the US Constitution.

However, an interesting subcategory emerges here. Namely, should a company be allowed to fire an employee for unprofessional behavior outside of work? If Mr. Schlossberg is good at his job, and reasonably civil in the confines thereof, should his social and political views and faux-pas be cause for termination? If so, then on what legal grounds can he contest the termination?

Image result for ellen simonetti

There do seem to be precedents for firing folks for extracurricular activities. In 2004, Ellen Simonetti was fired for taking pictures of herself in her Delta uniform as she lounged across the backs of airplane seats. The photograph which she posted to a blog about stewardessing, that she’d started in order to cope with the loss of her mother, wasn’t racy even by 1950’s standards. But nonetheless, Delta considered it unprofessional and sacked her.

My position is that Simonetti should not have been fired. Schlossberg has even less reason to be fired/evicted/disbarred etc. than she does. This is because he was not on company property, representing his company, or wearing company paraphernalia when he had his outburst.

His history of outbursts, including one where he ran into a radnomer with his bag and called him a ‘dirty foreigner’ might be a minor case of harassment or perhaps assault. Which I could see as being unsavory for an employer. But, again where should the line be drawn? There wasn’t really any battery, and the harassment was brief, akin to a middle finger on a busy street.

Should a line be drawn at all? Or should employers/landlords continue to wield carte blanche to terminate otherwise competent employees on grounds of unsavory conduct?

When looking at this case I ran across the notion that Schlossberg’s career was destroyed by the people he’d offended. This, to me, is where it gets a tad murky. Schlossberg initiated the aggression, in a public space, he is aware of cell phones, and he is aware of social media. While I 100% sympathize with the notion that the possibility of backlash shouldn’t intimidate Schlossberg or anyone into silence or even politesse, I can’t really view him as a victim. Even if I did, the link between those who posted the video and coordinated the harassment and his termination remains tenuous. Because it was still up to his employer to make the decision, and more importantly, it was up to him to avoid being confrontational.

Running up to randomers to call them dirty foreigners, haranguing Spanish speaking employees, and similar hijinks aren’t really public discourse. They’re outbursts and while they are protected under freedom of speech, that freedom doesn’t necessarily shield you form things like social ostracization, or job loss.

I don’t think either of those things should be the result of making an ass of yourself. However, if you work in a sector that requires a great deal of civic responsibility, being consistently combative, is likely a poor career choice. Whether that’s done on your own time or not.

As you can see, this is a really multifaceted issue that raises many questions. I encourage everyone to comment below, whether you agree or disagree with this analysis.


Sources 

http://excelle.monster.com/news/articles/1348-delta-flight-attendant-fired-for-blogging

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellen_Simonetti


https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/fiesta-protest-for-aaron-schlossberg_us_5aff7423e4b07309e058125f

https://news.vice.com/en_us/article/8xenxv/honey-im-calling-ice-says-white-guy-at-a-manhattan-restaurant

https://news.vice.com/en_us/article/8xeggb/retribution-has-been-swift-for-im-calling-ice-lawyer-aaron-schlossberg


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