Worse Than Death

Met one of the world’s most remarkable men recently. And he wasn’t drinking a beer after performing some incredible feat.

Arturo. Pudgy, balding, brown eyes the depth of infinite sorrow sat on a face that struggled and failed rising past sadness. A great achievement did not distinguish him. Noble, though? Yes. What separated him from our mass of humanity? Arturo had been able to forgive his wife’s killer.

So much so he intended supporting her murderer’s parole bid before the board.

Since the incident, and after treatments and relapses requiring further cures in this therapeutic facility or that, Arturo had traveled a decent part of the world. The man didn’t seek answers just remove. Determining resolution was a reward too great.

So much so realists might speculate he likely hoped stumbling across a suitable place, one whose environment, its inhabitants, made sense of his enormous loss.

Oh, why not travel to some obscure corner of the planet where the natives clearly saw his pain and relieve him of his burdensome suffering? We in the West are likelier to regard demise “before our time” as a sorrow-inducing conclusion. Elsewhere aren’t there other less squeamish cultures who judge such the ultimate merciful palliative?

If that were what Arturo sought, then it needed to wait. Purpose and clarity had developed along his road. For at least a while he’d been restored some direction.

Our intersection came after the widower had stopped over in Las Vegas on his way to the Coast. There, the inmate awaited his extraordinary judgment.

Abysmal loss impelled Arturo’ story. Unbidden, his tragedy sensed a friendly ear. His tale, like many heard or overheard, witnessed, in Las Vegas, revealed itself on its own minus the least amount of prompting.

A young drunk driver, a few months younger than the 21-year-old woman he killed, had served 21 years of a 25-to-life sentence. During his decades inside Hotel Graybar, he’d done more than age into a body developed by prison. He’d become an exemplary inmate. Not only had he gained an education, the kind bearing multiple degrees, the man had also earned the respect of factions inside and beyond prison walls.

Asked why he sought extending extraordinary mercy, Arturo answered some good must come from his circumstance. While the prisoner satisfied the state by serving much of his sentence, the widower thought the man behind bars could only truly atone upon release.

“Good” resided inside he who’d matured in jail.

Arturo summoned the trial from memory. The defendant had been deeply remorseful. If possible, his contrition swelled as life passed by both survivors.

Yes, after a time, the pair took up sporadic correspondence.

Nonetheless it would depend on Arturo’s nay or yea whether the prisoner soon lived as a free man among society again.

As arbitrarily as the killer had snatched life from Arturo’s wife, so summarily could the widower continue the penitent’s imprisonment. But Arturo confessed he wouldn’t. Instead, he intended bringing to bear the considerable persuasive power held through his impact statement to goose the other’s early release.

Listening to Arturo lent me further insight. Burdened with his despair, how many of us might ever reach his intended height of generosity and benevolence?

These days, Arturo is in his middle 40s. Past trauma has saddled him with a host of tics and peculiarities. He blurts. His eyes didn’t fix on objects but jumped.

Poor fellow cited a list of medications that made him a walking PDR. While he may’ve possessed some of these symptoms as a younger man, surely what befell him decades ago exacerbated his dilemmas.

“Manic” now as Arturo described himself, perhaps as a man in his early 20s, one who’d found, wooed, and captured the love of his life, he was then simply gleeful, enthusiastic, grateful. His search ended early and successfully. He’d gained that one companion, partner, better half, we all seek.

This pair connected in the Bronx. Their aspirations led them to what both envisioned the Golden West, California. Arturo foresaw their future together as lengthy and utterly fantastic.

He mustn’t describe her and no way did I insist. No need to doubt that she represented his entirety. But he did describe her. Listening to him hurt. Whether she truly was, he presented perfection. Which was as it should’ve been.

Lucky man. What he had, what they shared, what they surely ought have become, roused the kind of envy that angers the weakest among us.

Her cruel exit had hollowed him out daily for decades. Why further stoke those already broiling coals? Besides, in this case it was easy to imagine her rendered as an ideal because after all these years, and all his suffering, she’d become a figure of purest adoration.

If she had faults, they’d vanished through time and circumstances.

Mutually assured the other had discovered his or her absolute and forever desire, the pair wed. Listening to Arturo one was assured the whirlwind which had swept them up and twirled them in fabulous joy would never abate.

That she expected a child shortly into their marriage could only have deepened this conviction.

The incident occurred a month and a half before due her date. A drunk driver, a man his character witnesses claimed his failure one gross aberration, broadsided the vehicle carrying Arturo’s wife. The collision demolished both cars yet the drunk walked away unscathed while she was mangled.

Paramedics and later emergency room personnel were unable to save the child.

One wondered if Arturo was a godly man before the incident. Or had his wife and child’s deaths made him turn to the Almighty? In his jumpy recitation of events, he cited the sort of abstractions whose reasons are beyond mortal understanding. That maybe there was a plan. Or simply a demand, one of those immutable ones from which we flesh and blood beings are to impute lessons of some sort.

Ah. When the inexplicable is unanswerable why not ascribe it to grand designs outside the ken of men? Arturo reached his conclusion after the search for a satisfying answer had driven him mad.

He freely confessed to being unhinged. Doing so of course proved him quite aware instead. Likely he retreated into what he called madness because lack of certainty in our waking world frustrated him. In proclaiming irrationality he could cushion himself. Madness soothed. A balm, it protected.

Who wouldn’t prefer finding solace in insanity than entwined in a lifetime of miserable mystery?

Weak and Worthless

The United States is no longer inspirational. Our people have surrendered aspiration. This Republic has assumed the vilest qualities of Donald Trump, a pig who has been awarded our presidency.

Gone are the verve, curiosity, and intellect which propelled our formerly great nation. Removed is the fresh-faced visage and vigor which once made us indispensable among all countries inhabiting the earth.

Under Der Trump the United States is sliding from vital into nonessential. Continue reading Weak and Worthless

Pixel Addicts

The Consumer Electronics Show invaded and besieged Las Vegas the first week of 2017. Over 175,000 industry people attended this Woodstock for geeks. An IT legionnaires’ event, anyone familiar with sunlight was denied entry.

CES always features next-gen products and devices intended to make pasty-complexioned, socially awkward tech lovers desire and drool. Of course what premiered that first week of January will be obsolete just in time for Christmas.

Such is the rapidity of technology. Continue reading Pixel Addicts

Good Ether

Hear music as ether. Good ether.

With zero apologies to Marcel Proust, music not madeleines better allow ourselves to re-immerse ourselves in the past and fully revivify it. Not so much live music at that as tunes sound engineers have massaged down to their last notes. To me, too much concert music sounds ragged. Live performances allow bands license to mess with the perfection which either narcotized or motivated me in the first place.

I generally prefer my ether unadulterated and exactly the way I’ve come to favor it. Continue reading Good Ether

It Can Be Said

Larry Flynt made a Las Vegas appearance recently. The Hustler publisher visited Southern Nevada for the grand opening of another of his adult novelties emporia.

Although I seldom bother glancing at Hustler – the magazine’s content is too artless for my taste – I nonetheless trekked over to Flynt’s new smut hut. Not because I’ve become more prurient, but in our encroaching Donald Trump times it just seemed proper to pay homage to Flynt, a man who rose to the forefront of defending and strengthening our First Amendment.

While he doesn’t suit any image Americans prefer of their heroes, the Hustler publisher has done much to preserve and expand our ability to opine without censure or censoring. Had Flynt lost his fight, the public’s room to dissent, to ridicule, to deflate, would’ve been circumscribed today.

Too many Americans misunderstand the First Amendment. A great many of us mistakenly believe it only pertains to them, what they believe is “good” and “decent.” The amendment doesn’t only provide protections for views we favor. It also secures much of what we may find objectionable. That is the measure’s greatest strength. Continue reading It Can Be Said

Ring’s the Thing

On a late November evening, Plush ignited a streak of spontaneous passion.

Certainly Las Vegas visitors are transfixed by the swarms of working girls so overtly advertising and plying their horizontal trade. Live here long enough, though, and the sight of so many intimate pleasure providers simply becomes tenderloin wallpaper.

Occasionally a standout presents herself. Plush is one of the notables. Continue reading Ring’s the Thing

Dissolute Figures

New Las Vegas residents need accustoming themselves to the local incongruities. Living in Nevada, a state on the fringes of the mind or amid the spatial void, the usual standards seldom seem to jibe.

Las Vegas is a community where those of us passing as solid citizenry mesh daily among what others elsewhere would regard as unconventional, unhinged, unmoored, and uninhibited.

Easy as it might be to ascribe the behaviors to weirdness or eccentricities, indifference is the apt word. Remoteness and the regional disposition conspire for perfect conditions which allow a good many individuals to flout or ignore recognized forms of comportment altogether.

Probably explains the locals’ mania to mar and disfigure themselves with tats and piercings as well as dye their hair in colors unseen in nature. On the upside, though, these deviations help tell the bags of shit apart. Continue reading Dissolute Figures

Mr. Charlie Empties His Mind

Likely a great many Donald Trump supporters are furious at the furor raised by their candidate’s long-ago intemperate remarks concerning the mating rituals of rich and crass males.

The rest of us are pleased seeing Mr. Free Association’s verbosity hoisting him by his balls. Also nice to hear his lack of impulse control isn’t a recent development. Continue reading Mr. Charlie Empties His Mind

Graceless Nevada

Suffered my first real pang of homesickness recently.

While New York offers plenty, or Nevada lacks a lot, I knew what I was leaving behind and venturing into three years ago.

In the 30-plus years before resettling West, I’d frequently visited the Southwest. And while visiting is never the same as living, these stays informed me. I wasn’t that tenderfoot or greenhorn who showed up in February who so beguiled by the gorgeous weather believed the Mojave Desert paradise only to discover it hell June through August.

Nor was I that New Yorker who bemoaned the region’s paucity of good pizzerias.

A woman tugged the old home heartstrings. One who wasn’t even from Metropolitan New York. She hailed from Boston. And unlike some longtime New York transplants who continue playing up their old neighborhood roots decades into living here, hers wasn’t some vocal caricature that should’ve been misheard as some kind of distaff Vaughn Meader. Continue reading Graceless Nevada

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