Quotes with a Story

That’s ’cause there is no one better!

My Darling Jan

Jan & her son
before her Nova Scotia ocean beach house

Our road has been bumpy for ten months now, after an unbelievably blissful eleven months ( starting October 2009). I’ve felt Jan distancing herself from me and my problems as her family’s problems impinge on her. The other day I told Jan that she was less than a complete girl friend to me, that I needed better; but between her and nothing, she was better than nothing. Today (Jun 2011) she said that I wouldn’t do better ’cause “There is no better!”
I don’t doubt she’s right: on this earth. (And, God do I love her today, 2013 Sept 19, even though she’s been out of the country for coming up on two months.

I don’t accept evidence obtained under torture!

Phil Rose made that great joke (pretending to) explain his (pretend) rejection of “science.” (Of course lab techs torturing mice and canaries on a day to day basis is recent: industrial, and began in Germany! See Thomas Hager’s The Demon Under the Microscope. Think of mice deliberately diseased every time you take a Bayer aspirin.

Jazz: Pain, heard beautifully.

Basic Training, Fort Dix, freezing morning, we’re milling way underdressed for the New Jersey winter. I’m talking about jazz with some clown who was pretending to be an authority. “You can’t define jazz,” he said: the ten trillionth moron to repeat that saw.
Instantly I replied, “Jazz: pain heard beautifully.”
I had no advance answer, I didn’t know what I was going to say. I just knew I had to blow his arrogant prejudice against words and ideas out of the water.
Did he get it? I don’t think he heard me, I don’t think he was listening.
Listening! Now that’s what I’m talking about: listening.

2018 01 11 Parallel oxymoron:
Rejoicing in sorrow.

James Booker

Bill Russell said back in the day about the Boston Celtics that they could play two black players at home, three when they were away and five when they were behind.

Every good deed gets punished.

Clark Terry

Now we’ve all heard that more than once — even though we’ll hear the complement that it reverses vastly more often: every good deed gets rewarded (or, I believe, for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows). I doubt that Clark Terry thought we’d think he was being original: witty, yes, original, no: or rather — Original, yes; Unique, no. But I repeat it here, crediting the great trumpet player, because of the story that prompted it.
Miles Davis goes to Paris: Miles gets lionized (eventually, the French dubbed Miles a Knight of Malta): comes back to New York, gets bored, gets strung out, addicted. Clark Terry, also from St. Louis, older than Miles, a teacher and leader to Miles, sees Miles on the street: a mess. Clark Terry takes the enfant terrible back to his room: helps him out — food, shelter, clothing … Clark Terry goes out, comes back … His door is open … Everything is gone. No TV, no stereo … Clark Terry smiles, laughs at the memory, laughing at himself. Yeah, he shakes his head. “No good deed goes unpunished.”
Why is it that so many of the greatest artists, geniuses, have been such no good, stupid sons of bitches? Once upon a time, in the mid-1950s, I probably listened to more Clark Terry than to Miles Davis. But I haven’t listened to Clark Terry since then! I listen to Miles constantly: going on sixty years worth. Some single pieces I’ve listened to hundreds of times: many hundreds. I don’t mean background music; I mean listen: really listen. Clark Terry should go to heaven a hundred times faster than Miles. But God should leave heaven to Clark Terry and go to hell himself: be with Miles.

Stamp out Human Chauvinism.


By 1971, soon after founding the Free Learning Exchange (offering to network entire populations) (in hope of obviating both school and government), I found myself invited to all sorts of meetings. My favorite of those turned out to be populated by anarchists (left wing anarchists, it turned out). The homosexual anarchists were the most visible (and vocal) but there were all sorts. One vegetarian anarchist wore a button that said Stamp out Human Chauvinism. Wow. I’ll never forget that guy.

Erase your initials: and initial your erasure.

Bureaucracies are great at making clerks leave a trail of initials. Bureaucracies have rigid procedures. The file must be processed at desk 1, then desk 2, then desk 3 … Each clerk at each desk has to initial his part of the work before some gofer transports the file to the next station. All the desks in Room B process and initial the file before some meta-gofer carries the work to Room C …
I’m pretty sure that I heard the following story when I was an army clerk at Whitehall Street, a bureaucracy run jointly by the army and the draft board and employing both army and civil service personnel:
Somehow, in Room N, the file which should have gone to Desk 1 of Room A, then A-desk 2, then A-desk 3 … has gone to A-desk 1, then A-desk 2, then A-desk 4. Some bureaucrat in Room X discovers that the procedure got misordered. Gofer X is sent to Gofer N. Gofer N takes the file to Gofer A. Gofer A takes the file to A-desk 4 and says, “Erase your initials: and initial your erasure.”
It’s understood that Gofer A will then take the file to A-desk 3, say the same thing, and then back on to A-desk 4.
See? Human bureaucracies imagine that mistakes of procedure can be corrected: all it takes is a little time travel: go back and save Abraham Lincoln from assassination. Failing that, rewrite history: pretend that you succeeded. All the historians, sitting at DC Desks 7, 8, 9 will cooperate. They’d better.
Imagine a chemical procedure which says First mix the A with the B, then set it on fire, then pour on the sulfuric acid … What if A and B are set on fire before they’re mixed? What if the acid is poured before they’re set aflame? Too late: can’t get the desired product by some magic procedure which pretends to reorder.
The society which tortures the messengers from Truth (God, Universe …) can’t dust him off and pretend the message was received.
Oh, they can try; but Truth (God, Universe …) isn’t fooled.PS: I’d have sworn I’d told that story at Knatz.com by now; but a search doesn’t turn it up. So I tell it again: to be sure.

I only lie when I have to.

Bob Parker

How many times have you heard that line? Were the speakers quoting? or were they being “original”?
Bob (Bob’s Auto, Sebring) was picking me up so I could get my car back. We were mocking the likelihood of witnesses telling the truth (apropos of Kobe, Martha, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson …) I was all set to improvise a satire of the trial system, à la Knatz.com, and had gotten no further than “Do you swear to tell the truth …?” when Bob said, “I only lie when I have to.”
Ta Dah! The dialogue was better than the skit I was preparing to do solo.We all quote Shakespeare’s many wonderful phrases as though they were all original with Shakespeare. They may well be, of course: we know from earlier sources that do resemble his opus that Shakespeare tended to paraphrase — not quote, to improve — not to repeat. Still I adored the bit in Shakespeare in Love where young Will, thinking of writing Romeo and Juliet, hears a street jeremiad prefiguring “a plague on both your houses.” Sure. Will didn’t live in a vacuum. He had ears. He wasn’t the only speaker.

Leonardo can’t have been a genius: because if he were a genius, he’d be famous.

a teacher’s son
John, at his Bishof family’s Thanksgiving dinner (a couple of Knatzs being guests, 1957 or so), referred to Leonardo. “Who’s Leonardo?” his kid brother asked. Mr. Bishof, a teacher of some sort, history I believe, answered, “Leonardo daVinci was a genius.” “He can’t have been a genius,” the kid retorted, “or he’d be famous.”
I loved the kid’s not having heard of Leonardo: but more, I love the kid’s assumption 1) that he knew all famous names and 2) that fame was an accurate depiction of truth.
The kid presumed maps, including his maps, to be accurate: complete!
John was pegged as one of the smarter kids in his (my sister’s class). He went to Amherst, became a lawyer, soon sat on top of Anaconda Copper. His brother, er, wasn’t … didn’t. I don’t know what happened to his brother. Maybe his brother changed his name to George W. Bush: and became president.

Mr. Blake’s skin don’t dirt.

Mrs. William Blake
A guest of William Blake’s wanted to wash up. He found the water pitcher, the basin, a rag, but no soap. He asked the great poet’s missus for soap. She explained its absence in the household.

The moron monkeys don’t see how their cage is cleaned.

The story is implicit at Establishment Intellectuals

Oh, it likes you!

Moving to Maine to teach I took three vehicles: Hilary VW bug, my cute little Yamaha 100cc twin, and my brand new big yellow Yamaha trail bike: 100 cc, one cylinder, a choice of two rear sprockets. I rode one of my students on the twin, she expressed an interest in buying it. I handed it over for a test drive.
I told her two things about the twin: 1) it had a narrow power band, so if you wanted to see its zip you had to be willing to rev it, and 2) one carburetor was a little bit sticky. “Give it gas, it may take a second to behave.”
With her alone in the saddle the Y100 limped off, miserable, she wasn’t doing anything I said. She crawled back a minute later. “Never mind I said, I’ll take you home.” I took the rider’s position, she climbed on behind me, and VROOOM, off we went, like a terror, the twin ballsy and eager for the chase.
“Oh, it likes you,” she said.

Paul, you’re giving it all away!

Art Expo, NYC, 1970s My booth was across from Bernie’s, a poster dealer, one of my favorite colleagues, a very funny guy. I lived on the beach in Long Beach, he lived down the beach in Lido, we bumped into each other in the Apple and everywhere. An artist had just shown me tiny little cute little etchings, they be easy to sell ’cause they were cute, and small, and would have to be cheap: I was telling the artist that everything that was right with them was what was wrong with them: they were unique, they were odd. I said to the artist, “Look around you. Tell me what you see.” And to whatever he responded I replied, “No, you see standards: standard sized, 20 x 30: standard subject matter, standard treatment: lighthouses, migrating geese, covered bridges. You’ve done something cute, unique; what you need to do is something familiar, standard … but call it original.”
Bernie pretended to be appalled: I was giving it all away: the whole art world, the whole world of business. The rest of us were selling it: I was giving it.
Yes. Typical. Can’t help it.

Gore is someone who is always at war to save the Republic and defeat the empire.

a friend of Gore Vidal

That’s what I liked about Vidal. But for me: I want to defeat the empire:
but I don’t give a damn about the republic.
Quantum energy levels If you think you understand it, you probably don’t.

Niels Bohr

Much as I love science up till Einstein, and science under Einstein, I really love science since Einstein.

Harry Benson, Shoot First
Benson reports that as a youngster he was a soccer goalie, a rough-and-tumble guy. He says that there’s violence in sport — amen — and violence in



Writing versus Doing
My founding of FLEX in 1970 offered an internet of learning resources. Illich designed it, applying digital cybernetic power to decentralize political power. It was I who conceived many of the specifics of politically free networking: who invented the internet is a complex set of propositions, but any history that doesn’t place Illich front and center is malicious ignorance, and my part is second only to his. But I’d imagined the internet aloud a couple of times in the 1960s, before I heard of let alone met Illich. My story Out of Order imagines electronic banking (late-1960s): The First (and Last) Annual Report of the Neighborhood Free Fuckery imagined a 3×5 card library for orgy activities in 1968 or 1969. I sat at the bar of the West End Tavern with my sister-in-law’s hight school friend Lloyd, and improvised for him my story of a Columbia ’60s sit-in on Amsterdam Avenue at W 112th Street: Columbia was going to demolish the building, students protested … and I imagined them being avantgard in organizing the orgy: Line A for those who want to fuck, Line B for those who want to blow … with subdivisions for heterosexual vs. homosexual; activist versus passivist (eat, or be eaten) … And Lloyd interrupted me saying,

Don’t write it; DO it!

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About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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