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Reading the Tarot

I am a tarot reader. I have been reading for over 20 years. In the ‘90s I used to read tarot on the street in the East Village, and then I moved on to a small and private practice.

As an early skeptic raised in a strict religious environment, I have to say that there was, at first a spooky thrill about it - the first time I read, I was waiting for the walls to bleed. But of course they did not. And that spooky feeling was just a spiritual hangover from my evangelical upbringing. Readings shouldn’t make you feel spooky or scared. Readings should help you. I learned that from my first “alive” tarot reading.

She sat down at my little table on St. Mark’s - a young, blond tourist out bar-hopping with a couple of girlfriends. Seemed happy and having fun. She was probably my age exactly. I laid out the Celtic Cross and told her what they said. There were badly aspected male court cards and a 9 of cups in the “what others are thinking of you” position - a strange place, I thought, in a pretty unhappy reading. So I told her what they said. And she told me what they meant. She was celebrating her upcoming wedding to a man everyone thought was perfect and he was secretly abusing her. We both sat there and stared at each other. Cautiously, I explained that I was not saying this, because I did not know her, but the cards were telling me to tell her to break it off.

I was as surprised as she was! It was a sign of the tool’s benevolence, though, that the first time I nailed it was to give someone an important and helpful message. And a lot of those were negative, scary cards. But she needed to see them. They were there to help her. Not to tell her she was doomed.

I know the cards won’t hurt me. Life hurts. The cards just don’t lie. Everyone needs a friend that doesn’t lie.

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Cal-Mexico: My Utopia

The year is 2095.

The birth of Cal-Mexico was a result of the Second Mexican War / La Intervención Segunda de Los Estados Unidos de 2034, a quickly cascading series of events which began with the legalization of marijuana in Mexico in 2030, escalating until the Battle of Tijuana in 2033. ICE officials were surrounded by the combined forces of the San Diego and Tijuana PD. In less than 18 hours, California announced its independence and Mexico invited it into the strongest possible alliance with extensive trade agreements, open border, and commitment to each other's defense. The skeleton crew still at Edwards Air Force Base held their ground for a year, but the US never mustered much of a military response, embroiled as they were in so many other international conflicts, secessions, and natural disasters.

California's new official name is the Independent Republic of California but everyone outside of the state calls it Cal-Mexico. It’s not quite a friendly term. California's relationship with Mexico is strong, but not easy, and there are constant negotiations and embroilments over exports and imports and labor laws, which Mexico promised to bring up to California's standards at the time of the alliance but which is still not completely accomplished. The PRI runs candidates in California and they have a significant political minority in a multi-party parliamentary system, but none of the other political parties from Mexico have made much of an attempt to cross over.

Cal-Mexico has prospered in the Great Challenge by reverting back to a low-water-demand agricultural base while maintaining a commitment to developing as much sustainable energy as possible. The grid only exists to support the most remote communities, but in the cities and bigger towns, zoning laws have evolved to mandate garden zones and compost zones, and each house is required to maintain a tax-deductible small-scale energy generation and distribution system - a solar/wind/bio suite of low-impact technologies - in the same way houses were required to hook up to the grid in the 20th and early 21st century. Houses in garden zones are required to have gardens, but it is still possible to buy a house or rent an apartment in a non-garden zone. A garden is also tax deductible.

After a 27-year drought, California agriculture has reverted back to less thirsty stone-fruit orchards, wheat, hemp, and marijuana. The Salinas Valley is the breadbasket of the region and Salinas (official name: Las Ciudades Unidas de Salinas y Monterey) is a powerful city in the new nation, 10 miles from the coast. It's easy to find good jobs in building the new seawalls rising up everywhere. National law forbids anyone from owning more than 150 acres, and anyone with a sound business plan and at least two years of agricultural apprenticeship can apply to homestead land that needs a lot of TLC to return to productivity.

Clean water runs from the taps, but low-flow technologies keep use to a minimum, and the water shuts off completely every night from Midnight to 4AM. Lawns were never made illegal but they make one look very unpatriotic and have fallen completely out of fashion, especially after the Hanson Rebellion.

Every child is required to join the Young Firefighters/Bomberos Jovenes at the age of 5, a scout-like organization in childhood that culminates in two years of service in firefighting at the age of 18. The indoctrination tactics used on young boys to keep them from experimenting with fire are quite controversial and many say go too far, especially because girls are not required to participate. Arson is punishable by exile beginning at 16.

Everyone is bilingual.

When the land was seized from the biggest growers in the redistribution following the 150-Acre Act of 2076, there was nearly another War of Yanqui Intervention, avoided only when the self-styled Colonel Hanson, leader of the US-supported large landowner militia and its rabble of violent supporters, was offered nearly half the treasury to leave peacefully. He did, taking many of his supporters with him, where they were welcomed with open arms to settle in the Christian Republic of Idaho (whose ag-tech spies, they say, are everywhere).

In 2095, California is as peaceful and prosperous as it can be on a warming, troubled planet. The wheat grows tall in Salinas.

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Traveling

And I'm behind on my observations. So, starting from last July, I took the Amtrak from NYC to Los Angeles.

(1) When I was traveling through the desert, a man tried to convince me that he had seen someone levitate 6 inches above the ground. Did he believe it? Why would you tell such a story as a grown man? What do you say to someone who is looking you in the eye and telling such a whopper? I mean, gravity. So real.

(2) California is dense and rural, which is the worst of both worlds. If I'm living this far from the grocery store, I don't want neighbors. Just sayin.

(3) New York City, or at least Manhattan, is a gated community compared to LA. Back in 2011 in Bushwick, there was ONE man who had a little outside encampment set up. He got chased away by the authorities after a couple months. Multiply him by a few thousands, and put them all a block away from Wall Street, and that's what downtown LA looks like.

(4) Also, in NYC if you were somehow forced to be on foot, you might have to walk 6-8 hours to get home. In LA, you could walk 28 hours, and still not even be in your own neighborhood.

D for Dinosaur

I was at Union Square yesterday practicing my set. Not busking, just sitting on the stone wall overlooking the street. A man with a clipboard came up to me as I was still warming up.

"Are you a registered democrat?" he asked.

"I'm an agnostic," I replied.

He kind of laughed, turned to walk away, then came back.

"Can you play some Bob Dylan for us?"

I said no. Then I asked if he would like to hear one of my original songs.

He almost ran away as he was saying no.

I said, "You're running because you're a democrat."

He said, "Good one. You're right."

D for Dylan. D for democrat. D for dinosaur.

The Tragic Downfall of the Sorcerer Queen

The Tragic Downfall of the Sorcerer Queen
by Aron Blue

Once upon a time a powerful Sorcerer Queen ruled a peaceful and prosperous queendom. The neighboring King was jealous of her power and greedy for her land. So he plotted to overthrow her, but oh so slowly. 

He sent the daughter of the most beautiful woman in his kingdom as a royal hostage to the Sorcerer Queen. And then waited. Because he knew quite well of the Queen’s magic truth-telling mirror and also of her weakness: vanity. Meanwhile, as the child grew into a teenager, he sent his own son, the Prince, over to visit her occasionally and strike up a pleasant friendship. “Because you’re going to marry her,” he said. 

The beautiful hostage turned sixteen, and the magic mirror reported the inevitable news. The Queen fell into a paroxysm of jealousy and began plotting horrific and transparent assassinations, much to the consternation of her people, who were mostly peaceful Dwarves and Humans, miners and hunters. Sure enough, “Snow White” became the heroine of the people through no attempt or effort of her own (other than a sweet personality) and went into hiding in the forest, fiercely protected by the locals.

This is when the Queen began to behave unpredictably. The King wasn’t fully aware of her abilities as a sorceress, and so hadn’t factored in her uncanny ability to change her appearance and to create extremely complicated and undetectable poisons. Perhaps, too, he did not understand what dark forces he had awakened in her. Instead of Snow White living in the forest and developing a cadre of local forces loyal to her (and eventually the Prince), she fell victim to the Queen’s superior intellect and twisted drive to see her dead.

The King heard the news almost immediately from his animal spies. Quickly he summoned his best alchemists and gave them every detail. They threw together an antidote and gave him no promises. Meanwhile, he ordered his servants to deliver a glass coffin to the forest and arrange a public funeral.

“Take this antidote to the funeral,” the King said to the Prince. “If it works, we have doubled our lands in a bloodless revolution. If it doesn’t, we’ve still created a martyr that we can manipulate to our advantage for generations.”   

He arrived just in time to slip the antidote to Snow White under the guise of a final kiss. Miraculously, it worked. The Queen, meanwhile, had been driven half-mad by her sudden blood-lust and foray into dark magic. When Snow White loyalists were sent to assassinate her, they could only watch in horror as she perched on the edge of a cliff daring the lightning to strike her, which it finally did. Unless she was the fairest, she could not live.

Oh Vanity! 

"You Could Feed An Army on That"

Vegan Mujadarrah Sort Of

This is a miracle food. It's vegan, it's beyond cheap, and it's easy. And it's a powerful fuel. The key is patience and water. Wait for it.

Lentils
Onion
Rice
Spinach

-salt/pepper
-cumin
-cayenne
-sriracha
-etc

Cook lentils in water on medium-high 15-20 minutes  - make sure the water is about an inch above the lentils - if in doubt, add a little more - if the water cooks off, add a little more

Add the same amount of rice as you did lentils and more water and cook until the rice is done - about 20 minutes - add water as needed

Meanwhile slice onion into thin rings and slowcook in oil on LOW

Then stir onions into lentil/rice mixture, mash it up. Season to taste. Stir in some fresh spinach leaves while it's still hot and they'll get nice and wilted but still be really flavorful. Top individual bowls with sriracha. The original calls for yogurt or sour cream, and I'm not a vegan myself, but I'm less and less into dairy and with sriracha it is bangin.

Proust and the Dreyfusards in New York

This is my favorite New York Story. There was a new translation of Proust a few years back and someone had it at their house, and I got excited and started asking questions about it and the guy was really evasive.

On the way home, I said, "It seemed like he didn't even read the book."

My boyfriend, a native New Yorker, exploded at me. "OF COURSE HE DIDN'T READ THE BOOK!"

I didn't know people did that. Where I come from, you hide the fact that you read, you don't celebrate it. But you certainly don't fake it either. Which is worse, I don't know. I've certainly lived through both and I guess better a bunch of fake readers than people who consider too much reading at best a little eccentric and at worst dangerous and immoral. My cousin used to sneak romance novels to her best friend, a Pentecostal Holiness girl whose hair was down to her knees at 14 years old. She had to wear Little House on the Prairie dresses every day. The American Taliban is real.

Anyway, I've read In Search of Lost Time all the way through twice, because I am a well-read redneck, and I learned a great deal about people and fin de siecle French culture and history.

One of my favorite observations from him is in regard to the Dreyfus Affair. He basically says some people are Dreyfusards, some people are anti-Dreyfusards, and most people are idiots.

He says that we always think that the people on our side of a political argument came to their views through sound reasoning and an honest, seeking heart, and we think that the people on the other side are over-influenced by their family or tradition or have just never thought clearly enough about the issues to come to a thorough conclusion. But in truth, the people who do that are on both sides, not just one.

I think about that a lot.

Also, in the end, his character was a Dreyfusard and fought several duels about it.

I think about that a lot too.