there is no one way to happy,
I pivot one way and then another,
I linger, gathering what I can
before the fall, even swaying––
give life the finger.
The blog site of inveterate traveler & Fabric instigator Damon Shulenberger. An unpublished (yet agented) mendicant, I have come to think of myself as EnduranceWriter. No cape made yet.
The novel, updated as I write it, is here for beta readers to peruse. There is also a dedicated Arisugawa Park site, for those catching up from the start. Currently working on the serial novel Cowachunga & travel-oriented tribal flute project Chasing The Sun. Poetry, art, good times.
We are all a mass of contradictions,
there is no one way to happy,
I pivot one way and then another,
I linger, gathering what I can
before the fall, even swaying––
give life the finger.
Here, the long-awaited next section of Cowachunga. The start of a new day and a new chapter, which brings with it a puzzling new wrinkle––steps. As always, the novice beta reader is advised to start with Chapter One and Chapter Two.
Kyle winced as the sunlight hit his face far too early. He tried to regain the tail end of a quixotic dream, skimming the edges for brief seconds, halfway between figuring out an intensely deep puzzle and bottoming out. And then he was definitely out––it’s impossible to ignore a force that is turning your skin to burnt leather. "You up Dyl?" Kyle called, already aware that his friend was not in the immediate vicinity. He shielded his face and looked out with a massive squint… no one in sight.
In daylight the pool’s enrapturing qualities had vanished, replaced by an equally compelling, if soundly utilitarian, appeal as life source. Whatever spell the combination of deep heat and a many-layered cosmos had held last night, the present landscape was more rattlesnake than lounge.
Kyle felt a sudden urge to get out, split, the uneasy sense that the Mustang might have wandered off of its own volition. But Dylan was still not back and he owed it to him to wait. He gingerly traversed not-quite-burning stones, picking up stray socks and boxers beside the pool and stuffing them into his backpack.
Slinging bag over his shoulder, Kyle found a narrowing wedge of shade under large rocks that signaled steeper ascent. There was no obvious way forward, though Dylan’s disappearance suggested there must be some way off the plateau––better to stay put, following principles learned in Cub Scouts––he was not going to follow a wisp of a trail and find himself stranded.
Kyle planted himself on a low-slung boulder that made a tolerable seat, practicing monumental inertness––fighting a gnawing urge to head down to the car. There was a latent aching for air conditioning and the sweet thrust of V-6 engine, inching them back to that thin line, civilization. As Dharma Bums as yesterday had been, they had not traveled thousands of miles to experience the outback. It was time to expand in other directions––an Allan Kessler-designed tournament in Vegas, hours of mind numbing strategy in casino environs several notches too cold. The nervous, bored clatter of chips and that crisp harbinger of eternal hope, fresh cards off the deck.
Kyle checked his backpack in a rush of panic––the keys were still in the inner mesh pocket, two firm zippers away from being mislaid. He had had the sense not to trust stoned Dylan or his future stoned self with unfettered conveyance of such an essential item.
After a few minutes Kyle stood up, ready to head to the car. Dylan had probably gone ahead to see if he could rustle up a bite to eat…. first some water––the bottle he had replenished several times from the well last night was empty again and he was intensely thirsty.
Blinking through harsh sunlight at the stone well, Kyle hefted the wood cover off and turned a well-oiled winch that lowered the bucket. Steamy vapors arose… it had been a surprise last night to find the water they drew just as hot as the pool water. After a few moments of contemplation it all made sense––the well water would naturally come from the same thermal source as the pool and be of a similar temperature.
As he lowered the bucket, Kyle squinted at something a couple feet beneath the water’s surface. A dark, amorphous shape… some kind of filter or intake gasket? Kyle walked to the far side of the well and examined the ground along the same circumference as the mysterious object. Nothing, just sun-baked hardness… naturally, if a pipe ran from the well at that depth it would be deeply buried…. after staring for 10 good seconds Kyle became aware of a faint discoloration, a six-inch swathe that ran to the precipitous edge of the plateau.
Leaving the bucket dangling, Kyle followed the faint path. Twenty paces to an impossibly sheer drop. Impossible to make out, unless one was looking, a set of narrow steps etched its way along the rock face, curving out of sight halfway down. He marveled, as he had last night groping his way through rock toward the plateau, at the laborious engineering that had gone into this.
Kyle took firm grasp of a twine rope fastened along the side of the rock face and forced an unwilling foot on the first step. It was a 40 foot drop to the more-or-less horizontal terrain below––a scrabble of rocks and boulders that led, he fervently hoped, to a waiting Mustang. Reaching the bend where the steps disappeared Kyle confronted an unexpected drop, with a loosely strung rope the only guard against injurious plummet. Sharply to his left a ledge widened into a shadow-covered indentation in the rock wall––deep and well-concealed enough to be called a small cave.
As his eyes adjusted, Kyle made out a faucet, centered by metal flashing, tightly screwed into the rock face. Turning the spigot, a hard stream of cold water splashed down to a metal grate over a wide drain. He splashed water over his face, smoothing back his hair. Bending over, he drew in mouthful after mouthful of miraculous ice-cold water, too gratified for the nonce to question such an elaborate setup.
Resonance (Exit Echoes) sinks linkages between the voice hummed or sung into the flute and feedback-like harmonics, with waves lapping among the rocks at the end of White Beach. Three years ago you could easily sense the original vibe of Boracay, feel the paradise. Now, not so....
The first section of voice/flute harmonics is connected (with 1960s-era can-do rudimentarism) to Pink Floyd's Echoes, which I recorded while "DJing" at Exit Bar and listening in on very good speakers as my feet sank into the sand. I added my own flute/seagull parts, as the sonic depth and intensity was like actually playing in a group setting with a still very experimental Gilmour, Waters, et al. Followed by a little bonus for the digital sleuths, not telling where I got it. #endurancewriter
I am further refining the Cowachunga experience on this site. Rather than making people search through old blog posts, I have created dedicated page for each chapter of the ongoing serial novel. Start with Chapter One and if you get hooked, proceed directly to Chapter Two.*
The first installment of Chapter Three is coming on this blog page forthwith. Now that I am settled in in tropical latitudes, at the beach, no buttons to push (though working full time and playing flute) the installments should be rolling in on a weekly basis.
Thank you beta readers - 6,500 organic views a month don't lie––I'm out to prove the masses wrong. There are writers out there who don't pander.** Now back to Serpico.
* Pen and ink drawings included as web-only bonus materials! (SEO alert) Damon Shulenberger EnduranceWriter aka Endurance Writer.
**This is bumpersticker material: Ponder, Don't Pander.
So many realizations here on Boracay, as usual I do not follow the usual vices. I have cut back even further as of late, as playing tribal flute with tribally rooted musicians is its own thing.
The issue I have is that the accepted music here seems so tame. Among the 10 percent of musicians that have some originality, about 2 percent are willing to take it in a jazz direction. The Bob Marley acoustic reggae thing is very nice, but the same same songs bore me.
Maybe this is not due to inclination, but training. I am also technically a worse player than the cats who make money at it. I only play improv, from the heart.
I think I will look further into the whole thing, but now I have to hit the Lokal Bar again, see if I can get Louie to really unwind and play tribal Bukidnon style. Ah maybe tomorrow if Voltaire "Voltage" is free on the djimbe.
I am now working out a little sonic experiment called Resonance (Exit) that sinks linkages between the voice hummed or sung into the flute and feedback-like harmonics, with waves lapping among the rocks at the end of White Beach. Three years ago you could easily sense the original vibe of Boracay, feel the paradise––now it is still green but ultra-luxe, lit up, tamed. They do wedding shoots on the far rocks for Chrissakes.
The first section of voice/flute harmonics is connected (with 1960s-era can-do rudimentarism) to pink Floyd's Echoes, which I recorded while "DJing" at Exit Bar and listening in on very good speakers as my feet sank into the sand. I added my own Flute/seagull parts, as the sonic depth and intensity was like actually playing in a group setting with a still very experimental Gilmour, Waters, et al.
If they let me play songs at Exit again, I gotta try this experiment with some Santana & John McLaughlin. Or maybe a 1964 Miles Davis/Sam Rivers/Herbie Hancock/Tony Williams live combo date in Tokyo. Anyway, the experiment should be up on Soundcloud tomorrow. In the meantime peace yourself out.
Thanks to my cousin Paul, a highly literate convert to Eastern Orthodox Christianity, I have further refined my concept of Fabric. My college exposure to philosophy is one root of my thought process, as well as my deepening belief that we as humans need to find a way out of the capitalist/religious traps.
Strange and very au courant that a blog should be the disseminative vehicle for such a weighty realization.
It began with the Facebook caption "That is correct," by my uncle Bob's* brother Andy Rogers, a longtime University of Austin professor, for this picture:
To which I replied: "Convert from agnosticism LMAO."
To which cousin Paul replied: What's funny about that?
To which I soul searchingly came up with:
"One cannot covert from agnosticism because it is not a belief... it is simply a sense of following your own intuition. There are no rules, although implied in such a big word is a passing knowledge of Kant's empirical realism and perhaps the core concepts of Descartes, Plato, Socrates, Gandhi, Spinoza, Jesus, Kierkegaard, Lao Tzu, Sartre, Buddha, Hermann Hesse, Bob... mixed in, one would hope, with some nascent form of what I call Fabric or deep, active world sustainability-focused thought/endeavor.
Atheism is more directly tied to a disacceptance of religious beliefs, so I suppose it would be possible to convert from that to whatever belief system one chose.
For me conversion is a nonstarter because I don't see any established platform dedicated to finding ways for a life-sustaining planet to exist (ideally as a cohesive whole) in 500-1,000 years time. To be more specific, one that accepts people as they are, from whatever belief system.
Naturally, there is a fallacy to my viewpoint, in that such a platform (if successful) would itself become a belief system by another name... unless, I suppose, it was tied to a system of political economy, with teeth. At which stage it would inevitably have messy, unintended consequences. So I am a fervent skeptic, at best.
But I did coin my specific meaning of Fabric and even capitalize it––I must have some form of (agnostically rooted?) faith."
*Bob is a well known free thinker who at age seventy-something, closing in on 80, leads taintradio, bastion of the truly unrepentant.
Dance they said and I danced,
stop they said and I went on
to the next place I could dance
They were jealous maybe,
lost in an insidious spread
of the repetition blues
Guarded against the obvious
through false dichotomies,
simple kindness misconstrued
When I dance I dance,
when I am through I'm through.
Sometimes the vibes are just right, the egos disappear. On the beach this seems to happen a lot. In this corner, the Island Rhythms acoustic and djimbe duo + myself on flute. Armand TJ and a number of Frendz sit in a circle, grooving to the flicker of artificial candles.
Fire, who needs fire? The jungle is inside us - some call it remembrance of the natural world.
Regarding my last post BORACAY BUZZ KILL (OR THE BEACH, A COMEDY CONCEPT)- some people have asked why I would hang out in such a smartphone infested locale. Others have asked me whether I myself have not been guilty of taking photos of superlative sunsets.
All I can say in my defense is, my evening jog begins among that clusterf--- of sunset-capturing devices and reaches its apogee at a much quieter spot. Somewhere I can swim solitary-like and rash free (although the number of sand-skimming boats parked a hundred yards offshore has multiplied).*
Damon Shulenberger #endurancewriter
* The writing is on the wall - there is very little planning to the current wave of development. It is accepted wisdom that the green tropical lushness on a very small island that once defined the word 'paradise' must be covered in haphazard, four-story boxes.
In the Clearing
There is no clearing, the jungle is overpowering
with elephant shriek and trumpet moan,
the man, the dream, the cunning child
closed in, convoluted
The dreaming world, the beach
the screams through the thicket
piercing horror and never ending
Cries that reverberate and remind us just how
insignificant is our colony, how
transient and unnecessary––
we are not moving toward the harbor,
we are not shifting with the sun
But if we allow the darkness to run inside us
and the labyrinthine shadows to form in our soul
then maybe we are in the clearing, home.
From Earth Fabric
Above, a recording from another memorable night in Boracay, this time at Lokal Bar. These Talagda tribal flutes I have been playing around the world have found their rightful home. This is the first time I ever played miked up––surprising considering all the jams with DJs in Playa & Tulum last spring.
I have been watching the Peter Sellers film The Party on Youtube over the past two days (I tend to watch movies slowly, in increments) and can confidently say it stands as one of the best films of 1968.
Sellers' portrayal of an awkward Indian Hollywood party crasher may be completely un-PC but I believe he embodies the role with empathy... the boorish movie industry schmoozers take it square on the rump. Sellers' comedic sensibility rivals that of Charlie Chaplin and Groucho Marx, at their most wacky and inspired.
Not only that, but the cinematic concept of moving through an actual party in real time (very groovy space age pad with a proto-smart grid and baby statue that can riotously elevate its arc of piss), with recurring characters and motifs is nothing short of pioneering. It presages Altman and even that more recent movie that was shot at a party by the cast, using smart phones. It is a real shame that a movie like this could probably not be made in the present day, as it would draw the ire of thousands of livid Facebook protesters.
Walking White Beach prior to my daily jog and swim, I noted the swarms of camera toting tourists who have invaded Boracay and made it as pedestrian and anti-magical as a modern iPhone-meerkat concert experience.*
In a Seller-esque mood, I envisioned a movie along the lines of The Party called The Beach (I know, the title has been taken), portraying our hapless protagonists' attempt to wend his way through a bevy of digitized paradise capturers. I think the pictures give a nice concept ideation. Would not be expensive to make. Maybe I'll do it on my iPhone.
* To preserve integrity (and make a point), the photos are all from a single, spontaneously selected 100-foot stretch of White Beach at sunset, taken within 30 seconds.
(SEO alert) Content by Damon Shulenberger, endurancewriter par excellence & socially awkward snobby party avoider.
The freedom of not giving a ---- is really at the forefront here. I could raise the ire of censors, the hackles of the hidebound and no one would care. Because if all content is free then I can say whatever the eff I want, whomever it may offend.
I am offended by the publishing industry, I find the big print books that lead readers to obvious conclusions offensive.
I am offended by music for the masses, and of the masses that are so stuffed to the gills with conformist delirium that they think that DJs were ever anything but tied to technological confluence, the dynamite laden motherload.
I am offended by those who have stopped listening to the subtle signs that nature gives us, signaling that something is seriously out of whack.
I am offended by humans who kill other humans and by machines that are programmed to kill other humans. There I said it, I am offended by the cheerful volition with which we eagerly anticipate our own demise. As if there was not still some chance....