Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Major Developments in the Uptoon Courier Scene

Sways he just bought a trail her from the fine folks at Bicycle Sport on Selwyn.  Boy he loves it when I do that with words, so much so that he has even walked away before not to be seen again for hours, sometimes days.  Swazey, the Queen City messenger scholar and owner operator of VeloCity Bicycle Courier(s) rolled into the Uptoon Yesterday with his new Burley Trailer. Over the holiday weekend he had sent me a text with a photographic attachment of his latest cycling purchase. 

The question is, why did he make such a purchase?
a. To confuse senior members of the CMA.
b. He has nothing better to do with all of the cash he makes from servicing clients in 13 other regional Zip Codes.
c. His bag hurts his back and now he can place it in the trailer where it will get constantly pelted by the urban ick that falls to surface of the streets.
d. A contract is in the works with a potential new client that needs cargo delivered across the river two counties over.
e. All of the above.
Maybe he got tired of being randomly asked in the elevator, "Whatever happened to that messenger with the big calves who used to pull that little trailer behind his bike?"  Ultimately I guess time will tell and in the meantime we can only wonder and poke him with a stick. 

Swazey says:

"Why are you wanting to take pictures of me and my new trailer?"  "You are not going to make fun of me on your good for nothing Blog, are you?"  "Is my helmet on straight?"  "Do you like my Vans?"  "Can I get you some coffee?"  "Are you still mad at me for buying the very same gray summer weight wool Walz Cycling Cap that you were given as a gift two days after you received it?"  "Have you seen my beard comb?"  "Does my new trailer make you feel desirous?"

Swazey rides away without his bag on his back and instead it is tucked neatly under the strapping of the new trailer.  The Traffic Stop thinks that regardless of any preconceived die men shun all parameters that he should have bought a one wheeled BOB instead.  But as we all know, it does not matter what I think.  Ride on with your new trailer Swazey and keep the rubber side down!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Field Op Code Name-SYNCRO

It has been a sort of a tradition for the last few years that on the day after Thanksgiving Ms. Arcen and I take off to accomplish something pastoral and epic.  You know, some father daughter bonding time out away from it all where things are quiet and you can actually hear the earth spinning on its axis.  Last year it was the cold ride of the Virginia Creeper Trail and in 08 we spent the day hiking up in a snowy Grayson Highlands State Park, the highest territory in the great state of Virginia.  In 07, the first year I started this blog we stayed close to home that Friday and made our transfer via an urban RIDE/BUS/RIDE/SWIM/RIDE. Time, one of the four dimensions I understand is passing rapidly, all I have to do for confirmation of that is look back at how small my kid was just three years ago.

This year the weather thwarted our Black Friday pastoral plans so instead we spent the day doing chores and impressing each other with our math skills.  St. Lissa was called out in the wee hours of Sunday morning to assist with her 8th birth which left Ms. Arcen and I the time to utilize the rain check on our annual post Thanksgiving adventure.  We decided to pack the pack and head over to Crowders Mountain for a hike up the region's most distinct monadnock.  Once up along the main ridge our hope was to find an empty wall suitable for Ms. Arcen to practice her rock climbing\self empowerment skills. 

Just as we pulled into the semi crowded lot at the Linwood Road access, I noticed a pretty girl in the bright sun standing on one foot, stretching an arm high into the sky perfectly straight and pulling back on the leg not holding her up.  Interesting.  We drove on by and found our space close to the facilities and commenced to gear up for the mile and a half hike up to the summit ridge.  While I was messing with the pack behind the UN Montero, a gentleman and the pretty girl approached with the confidence of familiarity.  The fellow stuck out his hand and introduced himself as the Blair that contacted me about a year ago after he had started checking in with the Traffic Stop down Atlanta way.  Since then he has moved to Belmont to be closer with Beth, whom he then introduced us to.  She was the one radiating strength on one foot with a single hand reaching for the sky when we first pulled into the lot. 

How's the syncro?  I am not sure how it is, but I know that it is constant and has infinite powers when received.  We quickly figured out that the four of us would head up together and see what the day had in store.  It was really great to meet these two progressive thinking folks and spend some time ambling over the top rocks and inner walls of Crowders' main with them.

On the way up the stairs Ms. Arcen tells Beth just how much she loves horses and that she cannot wait to bring her horse Majesty down from Maggie Valley.  Beth has no doubt that the kid likes horses. 
Blair drops a short steep as Beth looks through the lens. 
Blair's face reacts to the impending doom if he makes one false step. 
As Blair uses his butt muscles to control his descent, Beth laughs. 
Ms. Arcen showing off her favorite cave. 
I did not have enough webbing to safely tie her in on a tall wall near her debut wall, so we decided to hike back the practice wall.  The bolts were occupied by Peyton and his climbing partner which gave us time to sit in the sun and enjoy a beverage.  Blair and Beth took off on the rest of their day and about twenty minutes later the bolts became free.  I anchored the line and then we headed down to the base of the crack.  No pictures of her on the wall, I was too busy being her belay.  She made five attempts on the same crack from her last time there and was unable to get passed a problem about 15 feet up.  Interestingly enough, that problem did not bother her on that last experience.  The rock was cold, we were in the shadows.  It was exciting to see her try, and not want to give up.  She seems to enjoy the feeling of being up there and on it. 
She pulled off her shoe to make an adjustment, that is when I saw her gnarly big toe poking out of a stinky sock.  Yikes, get to mending child!
Ms. Arcen made this image(the next one too) of me undoing our tie in. 
No one told me that my right short pant leg was bunched up in my harness thigh strap. 
Dad, you are such a dork with your short shorts on one side.  Photo: Random Lady up top.
On the walk down the sun was low, the light through the woods was shadowy and above us bright against the upper walls and trees.  We talked about the day and how nice it was to meet Blair and Beth.  Ms. Arcen said, "Dad, can we not go anywhere without someone recognizing you from your mistake ridden blog?  Why does that happen all the time?"  I told her, "Come on, that has only happened a few times.  It's not like I am Dicky or Arleigh."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

Pastor Lyonel on the afternoon of October 20, 2010 in Port Au Prince. 
 Especially this year to Pastor Lyonel for taking the time to teach me about the attachment between breaking laws and consequences.  I had met him early the morning before on the terraced patio of the safe space I was leasing.  Now we were headed for Barbancourt in his big white truck with two others, Pastor Dupree and his traditionally dressed and colorful wife.  Just outside the hectic capital city was the country, they are not far apart. The flat green landscape a horizon wide in front of us gave way a few miles ahead to an even greener long mountain range.

Bright light, proximity to the solar center in the math and physical being adds to the confusion when Lyonel asks me, "Why did you come to Haiti?"  Seems like all the cars in Haiti travel with the windows up, which to me is taking into the small box tons of ppm for all of us to breathe in, exhale, breathe in, exhale and so on.  Until the headache starts ninety six hours later and your entire thought process leads you back to the understanding that no one ever chose to be born into this type of dire living condition.  So I told him pretty much everything that I had which set into motion an educational transfer, the one that maybe I had been searching for.  I explained to Lyonel and my two companions sitting close to each other behind me that first I wanted to visit Haiti because I knew that there are serious problems that have been compounded by the earthquake.  My intention was to try to make a visual and written document that I could share with people back in America, in the hopes that a small bit of awareness may spread.  Secondly, because of hearing the word Haiti in my head and letting go of what I thought I was doing, space opened to receive the unplanned opportunity to help the real helpers back in Mecklenburg with some on the ground recon.

I blamed my intuition, a suitable scapegoat. As my answer to his original question started to end I found myself coming back to the why and then told them about my whole understanding that no one chose to be born to the one landscape, one nation or division that they were.  With that I am aware that my American brand was pure luck, like a mule eating broth which makes me further understand that the rest of the land on the planet is home to humans who made the same not choice.  Almost seven billion, half sleep while the other half enjoy the projection of the relatively fixed sun's rays on the surface of a spinning earth.  All of those people, their energy and potential.  Some live in packed, densely populated cities elbow to elbow with individual faces of expression and feelings.  Others dwell in more rural enclaves far from the chaos of ten million, like the community we were headed to.

Lyonel listened, then spoke when I finished.  "Interesting thoughts", he commented before adding, "Now let's take that a step further."  It was my turn to listen as he described some basic principles that he holds to be true because they are proven constantly when observed.  Lyonel asked, "When one breaks the law, one is subject to the consequences, would you agree?"

Of course.  Then he went on to explain that there are many types of laws that we as the human race have the potential to break.  For example: Laws of a particular Government, Spiritual Laws, Moral Laws, Natural Laws and so on.  And, when you break one of these or many and you are an individual that is one thing. You will have to deal with the outcome on our own terms, for and by yourself.  But, if you are a leader with responsibility to the people you govern on any level and you break those laws for your own immediate gain then the future generations wind up having to pay those consequences.  "That is what you see here in Haiti", the pastor said, "the people of Haiti are living in a condition that is the result of the generations prior consistently breaking the laws."

Pastor Lyonel went on to say that just like not choosing to be Haitian that these people did not ask for those laws to be broken over a span of the last roughly 250 years.   Living in the aftermath of not only an earthquake but the greed and senseless actions of others generations prior who are long dead and gone.  The scale of the travesty sets in as I realize that right now, those same laws are still perpetually being broken by leadership around the world.  And so then, who does the leadership work for?

As we sped along east on the newly asphalted unmarked road I stared out the window into the vibrant hillside stretching all the way to lands end and wondered about the future of the place I was born to.   When the full ramifications of our collective law breaking under the guise of progress catches up with the people back home what will it look like?   What I saw in Haiti was real, Lyonel makes complete sense and what he describes is obvious when you look at it. 

Lyonel told me that he understands the helpless feeling and confusion that sets in when one tries to figure out how to actually change things and fix the problem  Of course neither one of us ever had say in the actions taken by our leaders, so what is there to do?  I hear that a lot, "Oh, I can't control that, so I am only going to think about what I can."  Looks to me as if none of this is in any one's control so maybe it is time to give in and start undoing some of the many broken laws created over time.

For Pastor Lyonel it is about making right the conditions in the now created by so much wrong doing past.  Service to the people with assurance and honesty.  The problems of Haiti may never be fixed entirely, but in singular circumstances wrongs will be righted by people conscious enough to know what they must do.  "Letting go is key", he said.  When I heard his voice say those words, I realized that was the third time in about a month that phrase was spoken to me.  I let it set into my cortex, closed my eyes for a second and visioned an entire world ready to let it go.  I work on it every day knowing that those times I achieve it, I actually feel better about the bigger stage around me.  And it is hard to do, until I fully understand that it is actually the easier option compared to holding on.  Holding on can be such an effort, I thought to myself as I looked out over the tops of the palm trees at a beautiful rising landscape against a bright blue sky.    

Consequences indeed.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sorry for Everything

 Again, all over again it is Thanksgiving.  Sure, I'll go along for the forty first time like everything is fine and play the dice game that counts only when I realize it is just that, dice.  Truly Otter, you can come up with something, anything other than you don't give a shit, that your 2.84$ a gallon and everything connected to it is actually crushing those on the other end.  Cannot we at least talk about it without your anger taking control of not only you, but the air you breathe?  The collective, plus only you, the one who avoids and denies does not give one shit, that's the beauty of understanding.  My reproach is simply seeing the obvious, not an elitist perspective, merely the one of a person who feels.  How I talk to people?  Surely if you give your car a name, a human identity, one that you can actually formulate as a cause, you can simply dismiss any responsibility for caring in trade of your own comfort level.  Ha.  Merry Christmas everyone!

This post should not be taken lightly.  Humans lost their lives and are buried forever in the rubble of what your visual cortex is about to take in.  Once again, I cannot reiterate enough, the scale of the destruction that the earthquake in January created for Haitians is larger than I will ever be able to convey to you using this binary electronic code of nothing.  Then again, I am not working for anyone. It is not like anything else in history, the effects should not be compared to and or rationalized as within one's ego to determine a suitable response as something along the lines of, "Oh yeah, it's just like(fill in the blank)."   Riots?  Holgen says, "Every day here in Haiti is a riot."


Image 283

Underneath and over.
Consistent with recovery.
Many staircases led to the empty sky for clouds cannot hold weight, therefor they do not count. 
Cracks in the walls, lower PAP.
28 Avnu Delmas
Leave it alone, can we?
Another void staircase.

Monday, November 22, 2010

CMA Update

For those of you out there wondering if the courier business in Charlotte NC is still holding on during this country's deepest recession, I present to you evidence that it will take more than an economy to eliminate the messenger.  Look at the smile on Rich and the resolute determination to provide great custom, customer service to the client on the face of Swazey, that's right 'ey'.   The other day during our CMA meeting at Starbucks we discussed the future, not the past of the Charlotte Messenger business.  Apparently there are some changes on the horizon for all of us as we pedal forward with a livity concept that dates back 6,000 years and beyond to the time when Gods walked the earth and called for their overland messengers to deliver scripts of love and orders to battle.   And, when I say all of us, I mean all five or is it less than.  Wait, one, two, three, four, five, yeah roughly five.  That number may not accurately represent the entire Uptoon Messenger Pool, but it does quantify the couriers, including me that I talk to regularly and share information with.  Work, work, work.  I hear that all the time and yet it mainly just feels like growth to me.   Monday morning, not so early.  I slept in a bit and am heating some real bread for toast that will soon be bedaubed in butter and real jam.  Then out the door for the big buildings and a short holiday week of only three days.  Good day all...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Picture(s) of the Week

Yesterday afternoon I spied an alliance forming between Wes, representing the Charlotte Homeless Union(CHU, like chew) and an ole time Veteran from the local Taxi Cab League. 
About ten minutes later, just after I had bagged my camera, I noticed a small Cessna 172 flying basically down(south) Church Street. It was roughly 700 feet above the deck.  I watched as the pilot banked a tipped wing left hand turn around the crown of the Bank of America's Corporate Center.  The plane appeared to be less than 200 feet from the building.   For about ten minutes I watched as the plane made three passes down Church, around the Corp Center, then up College out of sight before returning the loop back down Church. 

* Correction Department News:  In yesterday's post I wrote, Two others from the squad of vigilante UN soldiers walked over to check me out.  I realized last night that while typing the sentence above I had gotten happy handed and accidentally added an 'e' to the end of vigilant changing the word and meaning of what I was trying to describe.  Vigilant: 1. keenly watchful to detect danger; wary: a vigilant sentry 2. ever awake and alert; sleeplessly watchful

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Meet the Sikhs

My heart rate was still up from the confrontation with the little man and his west coast gang when I walked around to the top of the circle and saw a squad of armed Sikhs standing along side a neon green dune buggy.  The trim bearded one in a blue turban with a stern look on his round face took one step towards me.  "Namaste", I blurted out truly trying to express peace from my soul to his.  A huge smile replaced his scowl and he responded, "Namaste" back to me.  Two others from the squad of vigilant UN soldiers walked over to check me out.   "Welcome to Petion Ville", the tall lanky soldier said as he twisted the left side of his long growth mustache in between his thumb and skinny wrinkled dark pointer. I told him that his mustache was fantastic and asked him what he thought of mine.   He laughed a soldier's laugh, amused at the reality before him.  One of the Sikhs pulled out a pocket sized camera from his cargo pocket, and motioned for an impromptu photo session.

So, I grabbed mine.
This is the fellow that welcomed me to town. He is a long way from home and the culture that he was born to.  
Serious business.
 7.62mm, locked and loaded. 
Holgen took this picture of me and my fearless protectors.  We were posing for another Indian Sikh photographer off camera to the left. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Being True to Yourself is Not Always Honest

One Day, two Tent Camps.  Here is the story of my visit to the first one.
Holgen drove up in his little white soft topped Geo track her two minutes early.  We did not really chat, it was more like we got straight to the point and skipped the pleasantries that we knew would follow later in the day.  An agreement was accepted with a handshake, it was on.  When I sat in the royal blue felt covered passenger seat I looked up and saw an even lighter, like just darker than Carolina Blue bound Bible in the center of the dash.  Holgen pulled us away up and over, across the urban hill dotted with everything from colonial era Ginger Bread Mansions to slums left in rubble from the earthquake nine months prior with tents lined up in front of the destroyed property.  Leaning forward I picked up the small, thick pocket sized Good Book and simultaneously asked out loud, "May I?"  Holgen smiled, and shot back a quick non-rehearsed, "Of course Bill, it is The Bible.  The Bible is for everyone."  It was heavy for being so small, less size than a pack of smokes.  I opened the little Good Book randomly and was surprised to immediately notice that it had been printed in small, but completely legible French.  Somewhere in the middle of The Book According to John the first word of one of the verses was clear, Comment.  How?  I started reading desperately aware of the French nasal sounds that Madame Stuart stressed during AP required French lessons.  Holgen laughed at the sound of my French voice and commented that I read French a lot better than I spoke it.  "But Bill, do you comprehend what you just read", Holgen asked truly not sure of the answer.  "Not as well as I should", I spoke out loud over the sounds of the car's motor and the traffic jam around us coming in through the open windows and soft top roof.  We then had a discussion about French, Creole, English and other languages that each of us had heard in our lifetimes.  He and I determined that humans have the capacity to learn all of the languages of the world which are basically connected to the region that each of us, without choice or ownership as individuals were born to.  That means we are all connected and maybe, just maybe dropping barriers means leaving hate and baggage at the door and opening up.  At that moment I realized that if I read more French with a translation dictionary close by, I would learn and my education would be closer to being paid off.  That understanding would be hard to unlearn if practiced.

We parked in Petion Ville in front of a public School.  Then on foot Holgen and I turned the corner around the bend and saw a Platoon sized element of the Indian Sikhs representing the United Nations.  This was theoretically a UN run tent camp that contained several thousand humans left homeless from the earthquake.  Prior to the ground shaking, this small green space was a public park.
After walking the entire perimeter Holgen and I entered the inside of the camp. What do you think of this fellow's shirt?
The conditions were tight, the tents and flimsy worn tarps were anchored on top of each other in all of the open space lack the little foot paths created by the tents coming together at the front. 
Heat.  Scorching heat blasted the plastic and gave a molecular airborne transfer. 
There is the sound of small children playing with the American approved throw away option toner cartridge pieces and a squished plastic anti-freeze bottle attached to twine directly behind me in a tent alley.  They should be in school. When I asked why they were not, the translation came down to their mom not being able to afford a school uniform.  So much for anything about the public school system in Haiti being public. 
To my left there is a pot on top of a charcoal fire in the blazing sun.  Two pots on the coal smolder actually.  One is filled with water boiling yellow brown and rice visible under the surface.  The other is a brine of sorts with meat, apparently chicken carcass and all brewing hot in the middle of day. 
A monument at some point in history backwards when life was really good and milling about in the open air. Now, the magical instant before us transformed to necessity. 
Right after I made this image Holgen spoke up noticing the comparison and contrast of the tent roofs down low v. the Bujahideen in their pastel colored walls and running water up on the hill. 
Upon his recommendation I took another closely cropped shot.  I should have given him the camera at that point.  Later in the day I did and he took my picture being flanked by two Sikhs, one armed with a Kalashnikov and the other with a huge mustache. 
The boy with the dark pack in the white T-Shirt is working for The International Red Cross. Of course I made this image on the day that cholera took its first victim north of PAP some 48 hours before the story broke back here in the Toon. 
Charcoal. This is the image that got me in trouble.  As soon as I stood up a tiny little gangsta entered my visual cortex.  He was dark and angry and did not weigh very much at all.  His eyes bulged as he started his rap, his anger and his hate attached to his ego, the same as the rest.  He went on as if he were from Compton.  I thought to myself two things.  One, thanks to all of you hard core rappers getting out the message and two, I could see right through this little man's head.  What he was saying, I mean rapping about made no sense.  Hoglen spoke Creole asking what did he want from me.   The petite garcon exclaimed, "I can speak English", then went on with his almost Robonarc psycho babble.  Just then as it went on I noticed a semi circle of this anger ridden fool's piers form behind him, facing me.  There were 8 of them total, my heart rate went up for the first time since arriving in country.  His anger persisted and he started to point at my face, real close like with each voice inflection meaning nothing.  Then he did it.  He poked at me as if he were trying to get the gunk out of the corner of my eye, doing me a favor.  I turned my head and smelled something bad under his fingernails as they crossed under my eyes and nose.   Into the black pools of his irises I stared from inches away.  It was time, I got out of there and he and his little clan followed making sure the American who never chose to be that ran away.  I found the Sikhs, then Holgen.  The guns looked heavy weighted with 7.62mm ammo.
The 8 latrines supporting the crowded camp.   People relieve themselves in their tents using buckets daily. The youngest are usually responsible for carrying the buckets to latrines for emptying.
There appears to be the same number portable shower units supporting the thousands in this particular camp.  Check this image out, look for small nuances that make you feel, not think. 
Upon further examination of an earlier image I wonder about the manhole cover in the picture.  I mean, who is tapped into the lines below when the masses carry it away by hand. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Synchro Images from Haiti

"The power of synchronicity is infinite",  she said quietly in the dark room.  Her soft voice was close and far away at the same time, distance unmeasurable in a space so small.  I could feel the gravitational force pulling the two stone crystal chunk through my legs towards the center of the spinning earth.  Gravity and love are invisible, both can be counted on as constants in the physical realm in which we dwell.  The power of the line of gravity between the clear white purple crystal on my lap was a straight line almost 4,000miles long, there was nothing about the pull that was bending. Thoughts twist and spiral along with the unseen magnetic force reaching downward for the molten core creating a mental visual illusion of cause and effect.  With both hands I push the rock off my lap and it crashes onto the wooden floor with a loud thud shaking the boards and my chair.  The pull is gone, but if I ever need it again, I know how to get it back.

NC Center east of Petion Ville
Total, totally.
While at the UN HQ of the IOM at the PAP Airport, I first read this exclusive parking area was for me.  William Phillip Fehr.  More on this visit soon...
This fellow was selling cold ice cream treats out of his cooler.  The verbal call sounded crazy and unique.  When I turned to find the source, the first thing I saw was the emblem of Charlotte, the Queen City in red on the top of his shirt. 
Here is a shot of the book store at le Ecole du Saint Francois de Sales. 
There are 19 people running for president in this month's election in Haiti.  They are each representing separate parties.  Word on the street is that Wyclef Jean is out, but Charles-Henri Baker is in.
Gold's Gym in PAP.  One of the men outside selling soda told me that the owner was in jail near Miami serving a 15 year sentence for fraud. 
American rice bags filled with sand.  The writing is on the wall.
Daily UNI Transfers are everywhere in Haiti.
My personal favorite reoccurring message. 
I know you may have already seen this one, but it is classic.