The Day The Train Left WordPress

This is my final departure post on WordPress…

“The Sequence”

Moving away from WordPress and towards the Sun

It was over a year ago I witnessed an alarming signal from WordPress. It didn’t affect me personally and it did. Someone from another WordPress site had “liked” a piece I had written, and curious about that site, because it had the word publishing as part of its name, I decided to saunter over there, to learn more about that site.

When I clicked on the link, the message I saw was disturbing. The site had been deactivated by WordPress. But why? Gradually,  I came to realize  I had less control over my content than I thought I had.

When I addressed this issue with WordPress over Twitter they downplayed it. But I was not satisfied with their response and I expressed my concern to the team on Twitter.

Anyway, it’s taken close to a year to migrate my content here and into my own .com site. I will provide (at some point) a more thorough comprehensive article about that fine line between ownership, copyright, and ultimately, censorship. But for now, I am just interested in dancing with words

So if you’re still interested in reading what I am writing, what I am painting, what I am photographing, what I have written, get on the train and head over to this station:

For some reason, Google, for now, is showing the wrong url, which opens a page that designates the site as not secure. This is an error based on a single by highly important letter in the url. The correct url is provided above: “https” not “http” That’s the significant letter.

This is not an end but a journey into another chapter.”

And, of course, the next piece will be about the fine print behind Internet giants — at least some of them. It would be a monumental task to research the fine print of all of them, but when you do read the fine print, you discover you are agreeing to their terms, not yours, and this can unwittingly put you at a disadvantage. But I will probably spend more time discussing how to get free from the noose of WordPress’s stylistic dominance on formatting, which is almost virtually impossible. 

Slight detour —

Beyond Physics

This Buddha is made of pewter. I have had him for decades. I found him (or should I say he found me?) in Chicago where I was born and lived until I moved to Maryland in 2005.

He is always with me. He has gone wherever I have gone. And I have traveled to many places, both physically, and throughout the mind, knowing I am nothing more than a drifter along its surface. Still, I attempt to connect the threads, like a spider would, while knowing this is an exercise in futility.

This Buddha is as constant as I am devoted to him. He easily fits into the palm of my hand, and his location is always precise, exact. He never veers away from the middle.

But now that I have stepped into the last chapter of life, and I am in a space, filled with everything I love, Buddha is now anchored between the world inside and the world outside of my window where the sun sets. But there has been a subtle shift that defies the laws of physics and which I am unable to explain. He has adjusted his focus towards the northwest.

At first, I thought I had done something, that I was somehow responsible for this shift, this adjustment. But my pattern has been consistent. Shortly after I awaken, I say: “Good morning, Buddha.” Then I stroke the crown of his head, delighted to see the smile on his face, the fullness of his belly, and go about the ritual of waking up to yet another day. 

Nonetheless, I continued to grapple with this puzzle as a scientist would.  I measured the shifts. They were frequent, and seemed beyond the scope of probability. Further, every time the shift occurred, I would re-center him, while keeping track of the cycle, and continued to ask: Could this shift be nothing more than an subtle act on my part, or could it be something more esoteric, beyond my comprehension?  What role did I play?  It was entirely possible that no-one other than myself was the author of what appeared to be a mystical experience, but which was, in fact, nothing of the kind. Perhaps I had a skill unbeknowst to me as a Magician?  But I did not trouble my already troubled mind much longer with this puzzle, and so I let it go. And in doing so, I was now free. Free to fly beyond the sky.

(Note: This is one of those pieces that will keep shifting until it finds its way home. In the meantime, let it take you wherever it is that you go — even if that place is nowhere.)






Sanctuaries: The Many Moods of a Room

Sometimes we have to build our own sanctuary, not with our hands, but with our minds, a room we can access whenever life poses excessive challenges, those times when we need a break, a safe refuge. I chose to travel into another age: Vienna, 1783…

And into a single, but immense, room, on a Sunday afternoon. Its architecture? My version of Baroque. The entrance to this sanctuary consists of white double open doors, not far below a ceiling high enough to elevate the mind. I step into the room, wearing my fancy but comfortable crimson flats, and I feel the bounce and vibration below of hickory floors, bathing in the sunlight, and bouncing off white-washed walls, trimmed with gold leaf. The double windows are wide and open, and I can feel a fresh and gentle breeze fill the room with the scent of exotic Spring flowers.

I sink into the cushions of a plush couch, and with my eyes closed, I listen to a greater vibration fill the room, the sound of a fortepiano, direct from heaven, and with a light so intense, I can see it, though my eyes are closed. This light pours into Mozart, who will leave us in eight years, and whom we will mourn until the end of time, and I listen to him finish the unfinished Fantasia for Piano in D Minor. I am in heaven now, interrupted only by the footsteps of a young boy who walks through the door, and I cannot help but feel his joy, for he has wanted to be in the same room as Mozart, though he may not even know it yet, and I cannot resist opening my eyes, and I smile, for I have always wanted to meet this child, and it fills me with joy to embrace Beethoven.

In The Hallway of Paradise

I have read about amazing stories about people who are by any standard normal. A woman, for example, gets in her car in an empty parking lot, but she forgets there’s something in the trunk she needs. So she gets out of the driver’s seat, and unwittingly leaves the car in reverse, and forgets to pull the emergency brake. There she is, lifting the door to the trunk and the car begins to roll backwards, and is about to flatten her, but a mysterious male appears and pushes the car, and thereby she escapes being crushed to death. And once she regains her composure, she looks for the man in the empty parking lot, but he has vanished into thin air. It could be a fable, or a scene from a horror story or flick. But who knows? Maybe it happened.

Although I approach stories like this with a healthy dose of skepticism, I would never attempt to judge their authenticity, since I have immense respect for belief systems. We all have them. Furthermore, visionaries of all stripes and colors claim our species has yet to tap the surface of those dormant parts of the brain, access doors to greater consciousness  Sad, isn’t it, that we use a fraction of that organ.

Imagine what we could accomplish if we could activate those features…

Maybe we would be far more capable than producing wars for the purposes of sport, and corporate profiteering, destroying the environment through forced ignorance, killing our neighbours, casting shame on the poor, and seeing the rich as the predators they actually are, gloating in their insatiable appetites for more and more, because nothing is ever enough for them.

However, they are perfectly at ease providing the employees of their empires with wages that only increase their struggle to survive, squeezing as much as they can from them, treating them as merchandise, and the taste of abusive environments, nothing more than animals — not only so their profits can increase — but to satiate their appetite for cruelty, which is as great as their appetite for money. Animals in zoos, for example, lead lives of luxury, by comparison, though disadvanteged in that they have unwillingly become captives, and however palatable the displays are to approximate a natural environment, creating the illusion of freedom, they still spend their lives in cages. 

So given the limitations of our species, we can expect almost anything, even mystics can be charlatans.

“It is not difficult to establish contact with the spirit,” said one at a meditation seminar. “The seed lies within us.” (This may be true.)  “God is everything and we are part of God, so in essence we are God.” (I wouldn’t go that far.) However, I like challenges with a bite. Maybe not God, but what about Guardian Angels?  What about them? Was that possible?

He then introduced what he referred to as “Diving Rods”. They looked a lot like those contraptions people use to scrape the surface of sand for the hidden treasures below. “These rods,” he said, “are used to determine, measure the length of one’s aura.” I was picked for this demonstration. Phil and I stood opposite each other, across the room. He held out the Diving Rods, and with minimal movement of the wrist, they began to vibrate.

“Can you feel the pull?” he said.

“Not really,” I said.

“Let’s try again,” he said.


“Can you feel it now?”


“Well, they don’t always work,” he said. “Sometimes there’s a fluke in the system.” I wondered which system exactly he was referring to? Flukes in the spirit world system? Were they intervening, blocking the connection? It’s possible.

“Let’s move on to visualisation,” he said. “The most common technique we use to contact elementals is through visualisation.”

“So you don’t really see them?” I said. “I mean, like here, in the room? Is your guardian angel here right now? Standing next to you?”

“Not necessarily,” he said. “But I am in continuous contact with my guardian angel (did he say angle?). He’s always there whenever I need him. I can always see him on the top of the hill.”

I was confused. Always with me, but on top of — which one was it? Was it a hill, or the hill? His hill? It was a lot like basic high school Algebra — x+y — just never clicked. I only understood them as alphabet partners, existing solely to join other letters to make words. Sometimes, however, we must cope with uncertainty — it’s healthy. So I gave the idea of visualisation another shot. I repeated the word slowly and in all caps:


“So I’m supposed to contact my guardian angel through the technique of visualisation?”

“Precisely,” he said. His enunciation was crisp. It made me think of crackers.

“Visualisation.” I repeated out loud at first, and from thereon, I drifted and began mumbling the word, until I finally reached the portal of silence. Once I crossed that threshold, I bounced it on the walls of silence, bit into it, to see if it resembled anything comparable to anything I had ever tasted — just because.

Daydreaming, surprisingly, posed a significant obstacle in my search for spiritual significance. Daydreaming from an early age was as natural as breathing. It was where 5 year olds could travel without a passport. The freedom to wander through the mind, drifting from one image or thought and into the next, and into the one next to that, sliding between reality (for that is necessary) and the world of imagination, well, is not only is time-consuming, but requires stamina, which I always had possessed, and later reinforced during my training as a dancer. But unlike visualisation, which requires focus, daydreaming uses an altogether different lens. So I developed a hybrid of daydreaming and visualisation. However, as you seldom can predict how hybrids will behave, you factor that risk into the equation.

I was now curious. I wanted to meet my guardian angel — just because.

Naturally, it didn’t happen immediately, and the fun began to fade. It almost felt like a 9-5 job. And for me that was no different than living in a cage. So my interest waned. I was ready to give up. My time, after all, was valuable.

Now I know you can guess what happened next.

The unexpected happened on one uneventful night. First, I felt them. Then, I heard them. Then, I saw them. Just as I was about to go to sleep. Apparently that’s when they like to show up, right before you drift into sleep. They slip through that dimension, I suppose, which our feeble brains cannot detect. So in addition to having more than one, they were not just any old (well they were old) angels. Not at all. These dudes were heavyweights.

They came dressed in business suits and immediately started to whine. They had long stringy hair. And they all talked at the same time. They stood around my head, like 3 probes attached to some cosmic radio; you know how radio waves go in and out depending on frequencies? — that’s how they sounded. And they argued amongst themselves about the most ridiculous details of my day.

“I really think she should’ve done something with her hair today. You know, she’s gonna have to make a decision about that soon. What will it be? Brown? Platinum? Black? Those roots are looking kind of, well, bad, really bad.”

“So what will it be, Princess?”

But they didn’t bother to wait for a response.

“Personally, I like the platinum —”

“That makes her look too pasty. What do you think, Gabe?”

“I think she should go with red. She hasn’t done that for a long time. And it complements her freckles.”

“Hey,” I shout. “Why don’t you tell me something I wanna hear? Why did Einstein insist on a week when I told him one night with him would’ve been enough? And what about the spaceship in my backyard? Why did Carl Sagan get to go on it, but I had to stay behind? I mean, even though Einstein stayed behind with me, and together, we watched it disappear, I was feeling so nostalgic. I wanted to fly away. And here I was, grounded with Einstein.”

They take notes on everything I say, and feel free to come and go as they please. They’re everywhere. I can understand emergencies, but parking lots?

I sit up on my bed, groggy and looking like a ghost, with dark blues circles under my eyes, and red threads in my eyes. I sit there dumb, speechless, and think it’s time to audition for the Living Dead. This amuses them. And they giggle.

“Go away. You guys are creepy. I wanna go to sleep.”

But do they listen to me?

Hell, no.



To Hell and Back Through Letters

Couldn’t help but share my experience in response to Robert Stokes Missive:
“Could not stop laughing at the Robert Stokes Letter.
I had a similar experience, but mine was a mere prelude to service, not an entire symphonic piece. Plus, my language was restrained. Last July the paper had published an opinion piece of mine, so I thought: Why not try again?
They thought about it for a couple of hours, and the editor got back to me and referenced the lovely language transitions, but the piece, she said, “is not quite right for our pages.”

I puzzled over that part of the response, as I had shared the piece with a friend and her response was: “Hilarious, terrifying, and insightful.” It reminded her of a British satirist, whose name she could not remember, and that she, too, had been to hell and back with Comcast. Others told me the reason they thought they had not published it was because Comcast is the King of the Internet in Baltimore, and the paper probably generated a lot of advertising revenue from the mouth of this King. There are more. However, they coexist in harmony, and support their territorial rights.

One comes from Saudi Arabia, for example, and though his influence appears to be essentially financial, it is remotely powered, for such a King would never actually set foot in Baltimore, unless absolutely necessary, and then would land here on a helipad.

Nonetheless, his influence cannot be ignored. An entire wing is dedicated to, and named after, him. In addition, it is impossible to ignore his presence, for upon entering one wing of this major medical institution (which similar to the Vatican, as in a city unto itself) one is overwhelmed by the godly dimensions and the size of his portrait. This act of vanity, however, would unleash the wrath of the Gods for its degree of hubris. Athena, for example, would pierce such a man with her gaze, alone, and thereby expose the hollow nature below the shell.

But I digress…
I cannot attest to the veracity of that conclusion, since I am still waiting for a response from the Editor-in-Chief of the paper, after composing, in a low key, my sense of bewilderment over that one phrase. In addition, I hinted how others had perceived the rejection, without ever revealing the seed of their conclusions. But most importantly, I asked him a simple question: What does that phrase actually mean?
It’s amazing how the most simple questions are often the most difficult to answer.”

“The Stokes Letter”
“Dear Cretins: 
I have been an NTL customer since 9th July 2001, when I signed up for your four-in-one deal for cable TV, cable modem, telephone, and alarm monitoring. During this three-month period I have encountered inadequacy of service which I had not previously considered possible, as well as ignorance and stupidity of monolithic proportions. Please allow me to provide specific details, so that you can either pursue your professional prerogative and seek to rectify these difficulties or more likely (I suspect) so that you can have some entertaining reading material as you while away the working day smoking B&H and drinking vendor-coffee on the bog in your office.

My initial installation was canceled without warning, resulting in my spending an entire Saturday sitting on my fat arse waiting for your technician to arrive. When he did not arrive, I spent a further 57 minutes listening to your infuriating hold music, and the even more annoying Scottish robot woman telling me to look at your helpful website.

The rescheduled installation then took place some two weeks later, although the technician did forget to bring a number of vital tools — such as a drill-bit and his cerebrum. Two weeks later, my cable modem had still not arrived. After 15 telephone calls over four weeks my modem arrived, six weeks after I had requested it — and begun to pay for it. I estimate your internet server’s downtime is roughly 35% — the hours between about 6 PM and midnight, Monday through Friday and most of the weekend. I am still waiting for my telephone connection.

I have made nine calls on my mobile to your no-help line and have been unhelpfully transferred to a variety of disinterested individuals who are, it seems, also highly skilled bollock jugglers. I have been informed that: a telephone line is available (and someone will call me back); that I will be transferred to someone who knows whether or not a telephone line is available (and then been cut off); that I will be transferred to someone (and then been redirected to an answering machine informing me that your office is closed); that I will be transferred to someone and then been redirected to the irritating Scottish robot woman, and several other variations on this theme.

Doubtless you are no longer reading this letter, as you have at least a thousand other dissatisfied customers to ignore. Frankly I don’t care. It’s far more satisfying as a customer to voice my frustrations in print than to shout them at your unending hold music. Forgive me, therefore, if I continue. I thought British Telecom was crap; that they had attained the holy-pot of god-awful customer relations; and that no one, anywhere, ever, could be more disinterested, less helpful or more obstructive to delivering service to their customers. That’s why I chose NT and because, well, there isn’t anyone else is there? How surprised I therefore was when I discovered to my considerable dissatisfaction and disappointment what a useless shower of bastards you truly are. You are sputum-filled pieces of distended rectum, incompetents of the highest order.

BT — wankers though they are — shine like brilliant beacons of success in the filthy mire of your seemingly limitless inadequacy. Suffice to say that I have now given up on my futile and foolhardy quest to receive any kind of service from you. I suggest that you cease any potential future attempts to extort payment from me for the services which you have so pointedly and catastrophically failed to deliver. Any such activity will be greeted initially with hilarity and disbelief and will quickly be replaced by derision and even perhaps bemused rage.
I enclose two small deposits, selected with great care from my cat’s litter tray, as an expression of my utter and complete contempt for both you and your pointless company. I sincerely hope that they have not become desiccated during transit — they were satisfyingly moist at the time of posting, and I would feel considerable disappointment if you did not experience both their rich aroma and delicate texture. Consider them the very embodiment of my feelings towards NTL and its worthless employees.

Have a nice day. May it be the last in your miserable short lives, you irritatingly incompetent and infuriatingly unhelpful bunch of twits. 
May you rot in Hell, 
Robert Stokes”

Music for the Soul to Dance to

When I first awaken, I head to my tiny kitchen and fill my French Press with coffee and boiling water. I press beyond the water level, and although the instructions say to leave it there for 5 minutes before you press it to the bottom of cylinder, I rarely make it to the 5 minute threshold.

It is the moment between wakefulness and sleep, and I need a nudge to push me through that door. I sit by the window, sipping my coffee in darkness and wait for the eastern light to appear through my window. And with the glow and warmth of the nuggets a salt rock lamp creates, I press the key for the music to begin playing the music for the soul to dance to. This, for me, is a sacred and necessary ritual.

The list is long, but I begin with Threshold, as it takes me through the range of experiences, from high to low, and low to high, sometimes hitting the middle note, but not often. Within this range, I surrender to the trance, without the corresponding human experiences associated with this spectrum of emotions, through the nuances of each note, until I am closer to wakefulness.

Then I move into Mozart’s Fantasia in D Minor, K 397, for a taste of melancholy, which doesn’t quite satiate my appetite, but still, I cannot resist his movement, and prance with him into higher notes, guided by the nimble fingers of Gould’s interpretation.

And finally, Beethoven opens the door to a glorious version of flight. This, I am compelled to listen to more than once, for it loosens me from the stubborn chill of darkness, now moving into the first notes of dawn, whilst the night begins to fade, until it reaches a full eclipse of the black sky above me. And below the sun, I shift into the rhythm of a canter, absorbing endless rays of light. This, my friend, is Beethoven’s Piano Sonata #15 in D, Op. 28, “Pastoral” – 2, Andante.

Then I hit shuffle on a playlist, which I have named, Music for the Soul to Dance to. This list takes me through a historical journey expressed through music. The list below is according to recording artist.

However, before we advance into the set below, it is worth mentioning, this morning musical ritual is not rigid, but flexible. And so, some mornings, instead of adhering to the musical sequence noted above — patterns have shifted overnight, a new cycle has evolved, a new set of rhythms pound the keys. And so, I head straight to Bedbugs And Ballyhoos, for example, by Echo & The Bunnymen, and tumble and rock into a new day — for nothing is constant when you wake up dancing. 

Music For The Soul To Dance To
Let’s Stay Together, Take Me To The River, I’m Still in Love With You, I Can’t Get Next To You, Back Up Train, (Al Green)

Let The Good Times Roll, Thrill is Gone, Nobody Loves Me But My Mother, (B.B. King, Live At San Quentin, 1990)

No Reply, I’m A Loser, Baby’s In Black, Twist And Shout, Eleanor Rigby, When I’m Sixty-Four, (The Beatles, 1962-1967)

Blowin’ In The Wind, Forever Young, Things Have Changed, The Death of Emmitt Till, Desolation Row, (Bob Dylan, 1962…)

Is This Love, Get Up Stand Up, Stir It Up, I Shot The Sheriff, Jamming, (Bob Marley)

Know Your Rights, (The Clash)

Round Here, Raining In Baltimore, (Counting Crows)

Bedbugs And Ballyhoo, (Echo & The Bunnymen)

the boy with perpetual nervousness, moscow nights, (The Feelies)

Reach out I’ll be there, If I were a carpenter, It’s the same old song, I’m in a different world, Seven rooms of gloom, (The Four Tops)

Moon River, For Once in My Life, My Kind of Town, Fly Me To The Moon, It Was A Very Good Year, (Frank Sinatra)

Fire Coming Out Of The Monkey’s Head, (Gorillaz)

Night Train, (James Brown, Live at the Apollo, 1962)

Cry Baby, (Janis Joplin, 1973)

Manic Depression, (Jimi Hendrix)

Hurt, (Johnny Cash)

Joy Ride, Smile Like You Mean It, Somebody Told Me, Everything Will Be Alright, This River Is Wild, Why Do I Keep Counting?, Exitude, (The Killers, 2004-2008)

Bamboo Banga, Hussel, Mango Pickle Down Down River, Come Around, (M.I.A, Kala)

Leave Me Alone, Beat It, Billie Jean, (Guess who)

On The Run, Lingo With The Gringo, (OMC, How Bizarre, 1967)

(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay, Let Me Come On Home, Tramp (With Carla Thomas), Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out, (Otis Redding, The Dock Of The Bay, 1968)

Track 05, (Patti Smith, Horses)

I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), (The Proclaimers, 1988)

I Never Came, Go With The Flow, (Queens Of The Stone Age, 2002-2005)

Oh, Pretty Woman, Only The Lonely, (Roy Orbison)

Send Me in My Way, Lost in a Crowd, Laugh as the Sun, (Rusted Root, When I Woke, 1994)

You Send Me, Sad Mood, Summertime, Twistin’ The Night Away, Shake, That’s Where It’s At, (Sam Cooke, 1957-1964)

Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, (Santa Esmeralda)

All For You, (Sister Hazel, 1967)

Just My Imagination, I Wish It Would Rain, Cloud Nine, Run Away Child Running Wild, Papa Was A Rolling Stone, (The Temptations)

Moon Dance, Brown Eyed Girl, And It Stoned Me, Cleaning Windows, Whenever God Shines His Light, (Van Morrison)

One Headlight, (The Wallflowers)