Month: November 2017

The League of Librarians | 2-oz. Read | Blog

THE LEAGUE OF LIBRARIANS

Deep in the nooks and crannies of society lives an organization, a dedicated movement, defined only by the unique ability of its members. I discovered the organization years ago and began to follow them, studying their every move. They have no handshake nor do they wear any sort of identifiable insignia. What’s most peculiar is they do not occupy a joint headquarters or secret lair but instead use their homes or public spaces as a base of operations. Despite that public presence, they operate in whispers and nudges, although they always use their abilities for the greater good. These extraordinary citizens—these devoted individuals—are known as the League of Librarians. The League of Librarians has been around for as long as stories have existed. It was formed in the distant past by the first person to ever tell a story. Regrettably, the League’s archives have no record of this person’s name or background so it appears that his or her identity is lost to the ages. Members of the League have a single magical ability: to …

Humanity | 2-oz. Read | Blog

A LAMENT FOR CHEESY ROBOTS

Social media tried to connect us. And before that it was computers, which followed landline phones and so on. And those technologies were successful, to a point. That’s because they hurt us as well. Those achievements gradually lowered us into a virtual reality that, over time, evaporated what it means to be human. You see, digital is fake. It’s 0s and 1s that, with the help of light and electricity, create objects and experiences we recognize from the physical world. We think we’re pressing keys, we assume a notification is tantamount to a human voice, and we decide that pixels mimic bricks. It’s an elaborate magic trick—”smart” stuff—because what we’re participating in is nothing more than a series of taps on a flat screen. Remove the bells and whistles, turn off the light, and cut the power, and what remains is a flat surface that is no more magnificent than a table top. But most listen to the dings and pops; many are glued to the glow; a multitude refuse to cut the cord. And …

Torch and Pitchfork | 2-oz. Read | Blog

ON TORCHES & PITCHFORKS

A carrot was dangled. It baited the hate and uncaged the rage, trading lives for votes using a soul with a hole. And now there’s noise that tries to drown the sound of the fears and tears about being selected and collected, rejected or ejected, blamed and shamed. You see, that noise does not bother with a founding father since that was then and this is now, so who cares about the “how”? A beast was unleashed—that much is certain—but it did not come from the heart of a nation. It came, instead, from the bowels of a station. But that collective force is finally seeing its claws slowly clipped, a growing effort to stifle the trifle that values characters over character and con-fidence over courage. In that spirit, let’s open the windows to vent the fears and dry the tears, to embrace fresh air because we care. Let’s take our steps together, in the same light and under the same sky…toward the same horizon. your voice is a spark igniting truth and belief— let’s …

ON SILENT HEROES & THE DARKEST OF FRIDAYS

Most of us will spend Thanksgiving evening enjoying semi-accidental food fatigue alongside desperate dreams of elastic. However, there will be, in fact, a specific group of individuals who are mentally bracing for the tempest to follow. That storm of materialistic proportions is what’s commonly referred to as Black Friday and as with any disaster, it too has its heroes. Go to any large retail store during Black Friday and you’ll see how the path of least resistance is a knee-jerk choice for the human mind; it’s in our nature to avoid obstacles and minimize struggle. That’s why the average customer—when given a choice between straightening their own mess or leaving it for a hardworking brand minion to fix—will often look the other way and keep on truckin’. Guess who is left to clean up aisle 7? Yep, that’s right, the retail employee. You see, retail employees are silent heroes. After John and Jane Customer plow through aisle after aisle, pawing at price tags and thug-handling random merch—thus treating the store like Times Square on New …

Power Cliches Keep the Hive Alive | 2-oz. Read | Blog

POWER CLICHÉS KEEP THE HIVE ALIVE

The prepackaged aspects of contemporary society produce a misguided mirage. That’s because “follow the leader” is the name of the game, and it is a game because square pegs in square holes built a cardboard landscape. The mentality behind the mirage—let’s call it “the hive”—believes trite speak on framed mountain peaks and bold ads for fresh fads should serve as challenges—to you and for you—to “be” a “better” “you.” It preaches the notion that working harder and not smarter will give you a reason to hold your head high. It wants you to believe that the latest and greatest tomorrow is within your grasp, but only with their guidance. Sounds great, right? Well, what the hive doesn’t tell you is that they’ll own your tomorrow if you let them. If you subscribe to their future, what was once considered cookie-cutter will suddenly appear as if it’s the cream of the crop. And you’ll dream in beige. Before you know it, life becomes a bland illusion in which you’re always chasing a carrot on a stick. …

CATHARTIC HAIRCUTS

My version of morning yoga can be described in two words: cathartic haircut. Unlike the joy I receive after scrubbing my coffee-stained teeth prior to the 9:30 p.m. wave of exhaustion I experience every night, my morning haircuts are clipper meditation, a cathartic experience gifting a fresh start. And that invisible burden of anxiety that typically accompanies a bountiful beard or helmet of hair? It now flows off my shoulders until the memory of such a feeling is reduced to clumps of grey and black. My morning has begun and it’s a blank canvas! © 2017 Joe Blend. All rights reserved.

Fried Haiku and a Scrambled Brain | 2-oz. Read | Blog

FRIED HAIKU & A SCRAMBLED BRAIN

Jack Kerouac once said, “an art dies when it describes itself instead of life.” It’s a paradox of sorts, like the chicken and the egg, but it makes me wonder whether a writer writes a poem or the lines create the poet? Does ink convey an idea or do readers place meaning on the words? If a typewriter reveals a story but no one is there to read it, do the words still exist? Life is full of mysteries: never stop discovering. a haiku about haiku is like a chicken and egg…food for thought © 2017 Joe Blend. All rights reserved.

LESS, SOMETIMES, IS MORE

There are many people who, sadly, chase the carrot. They’re constantly after something: maybe it’s the latest and greatest gadget, the best Black Friday has to offer, or the notion that “work harder, not smarter” is an acceptable definition of life and a badge of honor if you live through it. However, for some of us—definitely me and probably you—the carrot isn’t an option. We prefer to slow down when everyone else is accelerating. Our idea of happiness consists of substance over surface and balance over bat-shit-crazy bewildering behavior. But despite our clarity, we are still forced to commute through the cultural detritus that’s left in the wake of those who embrace the chase and covet the carrot. So, when the masses are hustling and bustling to outpace the race, I let them pass because in my heart I choose to walk. © 2017 Joe Blend. All rights reserved.

Father Time Killed the Atari Dream | 2-oz. Read | Blog

FATHER TIME KILLED THE ATARI DREAM

I speak a unique language because I lived in the 70s & 80s. It was an era that embraced the notion of putting a box atop another box so that we never had to leave the couch. One could turn up their collar in public because the youth insisted on it—although truth be told, any bastardization one could imagine and implement was immediately accepted as fashion canon. And let us not forget that our homes spent hours watching digital people wield their pixels to do battle in space, on sports fields, or on racetracks. Yes, dear readers, it was a magical time. Those were days when sticks became Excalibur, fences constructed Camelot, and cul-de-sacs were an ocean—which meant ten-speeds became rockets. Of course, you were kind to rewind and clouds were actually clouds and fun was in-person—which meant stickers were our emoticons. If you look closely, you’ll see Mork and Mindy and Taxi and a Land that was Lost. But sadly, their shadows have all but evaporated into a new reality that exists on Facebook, …

Don't Frown, You're a Clown | 2-oz. Read | Blog

DON’T FROWN, YOU’RE A CLOWN

In our big-top world, some consider themselves ringmasters. Because to them, you’re a joke they want to poke with a stick as they flick a switch so you fall through the floor, a door that welcomes your final laugh or what they call a gaffe. If you let them, they’ll watch you botch the act, which they think is a pact since they sold tickets. However, you’re a danger because you’re a stranger who never plays sidekick to anyone. A threat, I’m willing to bet, since they sit on a throne—alone. When they want you to struggle, just juggle—like a clown, dancing and prancing as the orbs fly high in the sky. And just wait because your smile, in a while, will cause their crown to become a frown. It will pull them down to the ground, a soul chained to the pain of a shallow life. Don’t subject yourself to a ringmaster: be a clown for the world. © 2017 Joe Blend. All rights reserved.

THE PERCOLATOR SYMPHONY

The stage is quiet. Curtains are closed and lights are low. A sense of anticipation hangs in the air as the conductor takes his place. Behind the scenes, the musicians are assembled in rigid attention. Though always poised to create, the players know the first performance of the day is always the most important. The program lists both well-known and obscure participants but despite varied backgrounds, the conductor’s nerves are steady. The players have performed this piece countless times. It’s therefore expected that the aromatic melodies will be executed to perfection. This is, after all, a symphony. As the conductor surveys the scene one final time, the players occupy their usual locations; their sculpted forms appear somewhat disjointed in their proximity but are clearly bound to each other through their roles. Confidence holding in place, all activity ceases as a brief pause pays tribute to what is about to happen. And then it begins… The first calculated movement of the conductor’s arm summons the opening piece as the metal basket is brought to the front accompanied …

THE SCULPTURE OF LIFE

civilization chiseled the sculpture about genius in the world Throughout history, humans nurtured intelligence because we knew how we wanted to greet the sunrise and where we wanted to be during the sunset. Humanity learned how to craft a modern society from nothing more than drawings and dreams, and despite adversity forcing us to retrace our steps at times, we ultimately succeeded in shaping civilization into what it is today. And so it will be tomorrow. Blackout poem and writing © 2017 Joe Blend. All rights reserved.