Tonglin – The healing of others is the healing of self

Lately I have been focused on the spiritual aspect of my transformation.  Regardless of theistic beliefs it is possible and I believe crucial to our well being that we maintain a sense of spiritual practice.  Some are drawn towards the tenants of a religious faith.  There are others who are drawn to the mystery of the unknown in a reverent way without the use of labels.  I believe at the heart of spirituality is the conscious awareness of connectedness to the universe and its inhabitants.  Being aware of nature and our human connection to each other is where the power of spiritual practice is at its best.

The feeling of disconnectedness happens because we have hardened.  This need to protect ourselves has caused us to shut off from each other.  Fear takes over and we are full of resentment and loneliness when we are hurt by the world or disappointed.  We may feel we are the only one in the world that feels the way we do.  We may feel that the entire world is against us and that nobody could understand how we feel.  We may take it personally that others treat us so badly and it causes us to run.  We isolate to the point we believe we are better off just being on our own island away from pain.  But, when we are honest we know that pain is unavoidable and that life is messy.  The most beautiful relations go bad and people rise and fall and lest we forget rise again.  But, fear causes us to become cynical to protect ourselves.  We may even begin to believe that good is an illusion.  But, that is a game we play to protect ourselves from disappointment for when things fall apart.  This is why so many people are destructive of our own dreams and furthermore relationships that could be a source of good.  It is out of fear that we will be disappointed or hurt.  So we become alone.

Over the years I have been a lay practitioner of Buddhist meditation.  My connection to it has come and gone through stages.  I recognize now that my best years have been when I was connected to it.  This has lead me to get back in touch with it.  I started listening to lectures by Pema Chodron, an ordained nun and author in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, whom I have always highly respected.   I was reminded of a practice called Tonglin that I had first learned about Dharma talks I had attended in Ohio.

Tonglin is the practice of sitting in meditation and breathing in the suffering of others and letting it transform so that we breath out heart felt compassion and healing for the suffering of all beings.  It is a practice that can seem quite contrary to what many believe to be helpful when it is first heard.  Many are so accustomed to running from suffering and trying to distance themselves from all that causes pain that we believe this will only make us worse.  But, look around our world and truly consider if you truly believe that the habitual beliefs that most people have that running and avoidance and isolation will make their life better is actually doing the trick.  My observation is that people who run from suffering are generally the most lonely and suffering people.  The answer I believe is to be the peaceful warrior who confronts the things we fear the most.  When we turn and face the dragon with compassion, the dragon loses it’s bite.   In therapy you learn to face phobias, confront loss or traumatic events.  We do this to stop running from things that have taken power over us because we run.  When we fear the power of loss we become defeated.

But, what’s more is when we take in the suffering of others, it is key that we combine our own suffering.  If you feel anxiety,  feel that anxiety, look at it in the eye and notice it.  breathe that in BUT, Don’t cling, don’t become stuck…let it go and breathe out the hope that all beings (including YOU) will be relieved of the suffering of anxiety, breathe out soft compassion.  What you will notice is that you have taken down the division of self and other.  You will see that you and all other fragile people are in this together, suffering in similar ways with similar reactions.  It will not only dissipate loneliness but you begin to feel loving compassion even for difficult people and also for yourself.  You will be aware of the fragile heart of our human form but know that it is the same heart as the person next to you.  If we all did this there would be so much more understanding, openness and love.  We would not feel alone because we would know that we all experience this and the suffering and joy of our self is ALL people’s suffering and joy.

In the book The Art of Happiness Dr. Howard Cutler recalls asking the Dalai Lama if he ever experienced loneliness.  He was shocked to find the answer was no.  Upon asking the reasons, His Holiness went into talking about the value of compassion.  When you treat compassion as an important virtue that you practice with others you allow yourself to be open.  You feel a kinship and are  in turn are able to receive back.  Loving compassion for others disarms us and makes us more approachable and willing to approach others.  You may not get this back in turn, in fact don’t be surprised in our world full of pain if you try to give compassion to others and they come back with spite or avoidance.  But, the good news is through the practice of Tonglin you have a valuable opportunity to strengthen your compassion for their present suffering.  You understand the causes of suffering and how they are reacting negatively to you as a result of their pain.  This mindfulness of these reactions and your own reactions are a great way of learning the causes of suffering.  Tonglin can help with that.   It also cultivates the true spirit of true benevolence, a giving of loving kindness without expectation of return.  If you give to others with the purpose of return, you miss the point and the real award of the virtue of compassion.  True compassion is when you give it to those who are unable in their state to return it to you.

Contemplating the gifts of Tonglin I have also thought about how this practice is good for developing a sense of non-clinging.  We do not try to build a story that everything will be alright.  We take in what is there, we accept it as it is and we give gentle hope that this suffering will go away for ourselves and others.  But, also in taking in this suffering (something non-desirable) with intention and letting it go, we gain practice in the art of letting go and letting things remain fluid.   After all it’s easier to let something go that is undesired.  However, we must be this way in all things.  We experience the joy of things knowing that all things will die but they are here to be enjoyed fully in the present.  We do not run from the messy reality of change.  In fact we learn to embrace it with compassion and understanding.  We let the good and the bad go just like water cycling through a stream.  Letting things change and transform without fear and without the feeling that we are the only ones who experience the gain and loss.  We are aware of the cycle.  If we let it be so, this can be a great comfort.

My Transformation Challenge

I am revisiting this blog with a more central focus.  It has been largely a random gathering of reviews, occasional creative writing, and retellings of the odd fact that I find interesting.  Lately, I have come into a period of momentum with a series of positive changes in my mindset and lifestyle.  These events are significant as they are coming at the tail of a particularly dark period for me.  My mindset earlier this year was one of confusion, intense anger and depression.  My self-esteem and outlook for my future was at one of the lowest points in my life.

I have had a life time of dealing with crippling depressions, anxiety and other issues that have lead to diagnoses of bipolar disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, to name the most consistent labels put upon my personal challenges.

I have been in therapy for the past year.  I went into this therapy with the intention of discussing issues that within months became clear were actually results of much larger and pervasive issues in my life that have been developing since infancy.  I agreed to a more intense therapy twice a week that has challenged me to honestly get in touch with my emotional core and talk and address these issues.  I have had some serious breakthroughs doing this.  Along the way I’ve fought it intensely.  Sometimes trying to deny the need to deal with these things.  The pain of dealing with it all being something that my instinct is usually to run as far as possible from the problem.

This running is something I came to realize is something we are always doing as humans at expense of our own mental clarity and well being.  We build false ideas and welcome distractions that become hard to unravel once they have been held into a place as a kind of refuge.  Creating projections of guilt onto others for things reflected in our own lives shields us from the helplessness and guilt we feel about our own behaviors.  What has been most interesting to me is the observation that most angry and cynical people also have low self-image.  I have yet to meet a consistently disparaging person that after close observation, behind the facade, actually has a good self-image.  It has made me examine myself when I find myself raging against the world and careful about my association with people who are cynical about the world.

We are mirrors.  We will see the world as we see ourselves.  A good example is how a positive and self-empowered person looks at problems in the world as opposed to a person with a defeated self-image.  A person with a negative self-image is going to see these problems as a reason the world is a terrible place and how society is hopeless.  They will go on and on about how stupid the world is, how their dreams are hopeless and how the Earth and the world around them is going to hell.  Furthermore, they will see every flaw in a person rather than their strengths.  This is because this is what they do to themselves and is also because they hope to find some flaw in the other person that makes them feel less inadequate about the flaw they are obsessing with about themselves.  Inferior people never want to feel the most inferior.

But, look at the person with a truly positive self-image.  They look at problems as challenges, believing in their own possibility to make a change and having the internal energy to put forth the effort.  They will volunteer, they will become leaders, they will inspire and help people reform themselves and their environment in every way.  They will not put their energy in defeatist and negative rants about the world because they do not feel helpless and they look for solutions not reasons for failure.  They will notice the good in things when it is there (and it always is if you look hard enough) and they will inspire others and lift them up because they do not entertain an internal voice making them feel inferior, therefore adversarial to another person.

You will see a heaven or a hell depending on the state of your mind.  Both of them exist simultaneously in all things.  The key is to atune your perception.  This is why I have chosen to reject the labels that have been put upon me.  Where there is a problem I do not look for a condemning diagnosis to fit into.  I am not giving myself a defeating life sentence.  I have seen how in my own life and in the tragic life of close friends this is a disastrous mindset to have.  You can appeal so much to a label that you start trying to identify with it in subconscious ways you aren’t even cognizant.  I watched the rapid decline of a friend after his official diagnosis of bi-polar disorder.  It was not lost on me that after he was diagnosed and came to learn more about the disorder that he actually started to fit more of the behaviors than he had before.  It was like he was a new initiate into a tribe of sufferers who was trying to fit his role.  This lead to his suicide last year.   He used to talk to me about Bipolar knowing I was also diagnosed with this.  Something about it always felt off to be talking about it in such identifying language.  We were no longer discussing our own authentic behaviors or feelings or reactions.  It’s like if I engaged in these conversations, in which I came to avoid, we were appealing to the medical textbooks as to who we were and what was to be expected of our behaviors and thoughts.  We judged ourselves by a clinical checklist.  What is expected of us is that we are helpless without stabilizing medication.  Any other reason for our thoughts is largely second to this one notion in which we are lead to believe we are largely helpless.  I have had psychiatrists skip the psychotherapy entirely over a simple regimen of toxic pills that made me feel alien to my own body.  It was the opposite of the aims of yoga.  I felt my mind, spirit and body were completely out of sync at all times.

Don’t get me wrong here, I acknowledge that there has been a ton of research into this disorder and I do not deny it exists.  But, in saying this it is important to know just how easily the diagnosis for a disease in which there is no physiological test for proving is thrown around.  I am now convinced that a large percentage of people who are diagnosed with biochemical mental disorders do not have them.  There are often existential conflicts and deep psychological reasons for behaviors that mimic bipolar disorder.  In our society of quick fixes and an abandonment of the journeys of personal initiation by trial, contemplation and transformation that requires an often painful reckoning of self, we look for something a pill can be taken for instead of believing in our capacity to complete real internal work.

The sad realization for me is that it feels like the medical community has created a toxic mask with these supposedly healing pills in which we  are treating our recovery from things like physical and sexual abuse, parental neglect, and grief of loss in the same way people use alcohol to deal with these same problems.   When you look at the toxic physical and mental effects and long lasting problems caused by the medicine used to treat these disorders they are truly not any more healthy than drinking your troubles away.  Both of them are intended to create a sense of numbness.  the only difference is one makes you erratic and unable to drive and the other makes you dull and able to be complacent in any type of task – even one that perhaps you have good reason to dislike.  Dislike can be healthy, it can lead you to challenge yourself to pursue your authentic self.  It is the self-defeat that is the problem.  It is the complacency that is the biggest problem.

For months I spent time with my labels.  I was fortunate that the therapist I had believed in different therapeutic models and never used them.  In fact she helped me in ways to question them.  She helped me to question everything.  These questions have been my release from many things that have held me down.   The more I asked questions about things I have become comfortable in assuming about myself and those around me the more I realized I was living an entirely false life that was based on self-destructive ideas about myself.  This idea of my unworthiness to have what others have, this shame that has been instilled in me by not separating from things that happened to me as a child has lead me to continually undervalue myself.  It has lead me to not fully pursue the goals and relationships I deserve.  It has lead me to put terrible labels on myself and inflict pain on myself by not taking care of myself and putting myself in harms way and allowing people to disrespect and abuse me in my adult life.

Months ago I asked in therapy how I can come to love myself.  It became clear this was a real problem.  In her true fashion, my therapist turned the question back onto me knowing that my question would find the answer within.  That night I drifted into a kind of vision of myself as a small child.  I was looking at myself from without.  I was not attached to anything that was causing the child the shame although I knew it was me I was looking at.  I became the parent to myself and gave the nurturing appreciation that I was redeemed and valuable.   Having had a very detached upbringing from parents who for their own personal challenges were unable to nurture me emotionally this was an important healing process.  I suggest this to anyone who has experienced parental abandonment or emotional detachment from a parent.

This was a first step for me.  It lead me to believe I deserved to be better.  Just this step alone has opened an avalanche of changes I am making in my life.  This month has been the beginning of this challenge.  I am step by step working on areas of my life that I want to improve.  I am intent on getting in the physical shape of my life.  I just returned from a rigorous weekend of hiking in the American Southwest, including the Colorado Rockies and the New Mexican desert (places that inspire my spiritually as well as feed my physical fitness goals).  Next year I have a goal of hiking to the top of Mt. Bierstadt (pictured above), a mountain with a summit exceeding 14,000 ft.

I am getting in touch with an authentic spirituality that appeals to my true intuitive beliefs.  I have no use for rigid doctrines or the speculations of fad religions or the dictates of organized religions that have lost touch with the source of their mystery traditions.  I feel blessed that after years of study into the worlds religious ideas, mainstream and obscure, I have stepped beyond the need for identification with a clan of believers and their doctrines.  Some kind of cohesion of experience is happening organically within me in silence and simplicity.  I am finding my own natural ritual among the rivers and caves and the laughter of children and wise eyes of the old.  These kinds of understanding will never fit in a book by the next mystical guru on the bestseller list.  But, I do hope to try to convey some of this and help others find their own unique ways to duplicate the process.

I have goals of changing my career to something that utilizes my creativity and makes me happy to come to my work.  I am going to make my living place a sanctuary no matter where or how humble that place may be.

I have become very focused on diet and eliminating certain things and getting more of others.  I will be talking more about these experiments as I think some of them, especially the massive decrease in whole wheat from my diet, has had dramatic effects on my mind and body.

I am recording this journey for myself and for reflection but I’m hoping that in doing so I can give others who are also coming out of a long dark struggle hope that they to can find their way back to the light and onward to the best life they’ve ever lived.  Perhaps methods will be revealed.  If I can help others then it makes these posts worth the time spent to publish them.

From Ashes

Someone will build from this formless ash
Neither knowing nor caring it once were a palace
They will build their own construction
Youthful ambition looking narrowly forward
Believing they have invented the block.
They won’t know how we burned it down
How we tested it’s foundation with questions
Ravaging our bounties like they were limitless
Believing that we invented love and beauty
Beleving that we were stone not failing flesh

Imagine This Person


Imagine this person that you love so much that you would come to their defense with arms flying if someone came to intentionally harm them.

If someone belittled them or caused them any emotional harm you would go on and on about how good you thought this person was.

You would jump in front of a truck to save this person because they mean so much to you.

Imagine there is a person in whom you have seen all their weaknesses since they were a small child, all of the times when they were unaware of what they were doing to make others angry:  the times they broke things; the times they stole from the cookie jar; the times they broke your heart with hurtful words.  You smile and laugh at their silly acts like a mother who knows that the child may be devious and mean but inside is a beautiful soul who wants to do what is right.  You look at their eyes and can’t find it in you to be angry when they pour koolaid on your new rug or say you are mean because you don’t buy them a new toy.

You were there when they tried awkwardly to show their love not knowing exactly how and sometimes scared of rejection and withdrawing.  You knew it was pure all along.  You have had conversations with them throughout the night and had the most intimate late night talks.  You’ve shared triumph and regret under the moonlight.

You watch as they show fear and so retreat from others when they feel a lack of love and personal resource.  You see their fear of loss and how they become selfish and scared of the world and sometimes show their worst sides in defense when they need to be open.  But you know this is not them, this is their fear.  You forgive them for this and see the person full of love inside who you know will return.

You see them when they smoke, drink too much,  overeat, starve themselves,  give themselves to hurtful people who don’t respect them and stand over bridges to jump and all you can do is cry and want to hold them and tell them they can do better.

Imagine that you love this person so much that you would never wish to see anyone including themselves do anything harmful to themselves.  You want to enjoy what light they have even when they can’t see the light themselves.

You are sad when they feel the need to do things that hurt themselves and when they hurt others.  You see it only hurting themselves and driving a wedge between them and their fellow humans.  You know they do not wish to harm anyone and you want them to know that they don’t have to live in fear and anger and bitterness that causes them to react from this pain.

This person sometimes doesn’t have any idea what they mean to you and sometimes feels the world would be better off without them around but you know that theirs is a life that would be forever and heart crushingly missed if it were extinguished.  Imagine how much you would miss them.

Imagine the joy on this person’s face when they express their own joys and passions and the dreams they’ve held since a child.  Imagine all the imaginative and creative things this person does that make you feel alive and inspired and like there is magic on this planet.

Imagine that even on their worst day and no matter how old, fat and gray they become that they will be so beautiful because of the light of everything in them that comes forth and the warmth they bring to your soul with their attempts at kindness and sharing.  Imagine the beauty in their eyes as their fire glows from inside.

NOW imagine this person is YOU

Blank City – The Rise and Fall of No Wave Cinema

A midst the economic devastation of late 70’s and early 80’s New York City rose a defiant form of art culture called No Wave. This form spanned all mediums of art and music. Fueled by the abandonment of the nearly bankrupt city, the often rat-infested ruins of tenements on the Lower East Side were taken over, sometimes rent free, by renegade artists taking the spirit of the punk movement to it’s extremes.

Blank City a documentary on this era screened this past weekend at Dead Center Film Festival in Oklahoma City. The film exposes the beginnings of well known directors such as Jim Jarmusch, John Waters and Steve Buscemi during a time when much of the work of the so called “Cinema of Transgression” was being done with stolen Super 8 and 16mm cameras on illegal sets with friends and associates from the drug-rampant streets doing improvisational performances in a script-less Goddard style.

This was raw, visceral cinema about exposing a horrific time in the city’s history when it seemed that all hope was lost and even walking home at night was a courageous feat that could end in tragedy. It was a cinema not made for the hope of fortune but for the sake of expressing the angst of the time. From this place would come the art of the too early departed from this world – Jean Michel Basquiat, the hip-hop movement and early American punk rock.

The gutsy and often very controversial films, especially those done by the likes of Nick Zedd and Lydia Lunch (who would run into legal trouble for their films), would break down the barriers through their honest and cutting style. Some of the barriers destroyed by No Wave cinema would influence independent film for decades to come.

Appearances throughout the movie are made by notable names such as Thurston Moore, Debbie Harry, Fab 5 Freddy and others. The music of the Contortions, Richard Hell, Television and other No Wave era bands fill out an appropriate musical dimension to the film.

Blank City is a nostalgic look at a time before the sanitation of New York by big money and the Reagan era. It is a time when CBGB’s was alive with sweat soaked punk rockers and stacks of flyers of the Talking Heads, the Ramones and Patti Smith. This was long before American punk’s legendary birthplace location on the Bowery became a pristine Chase bank. It is a portrait of a time when the horrors of a wasteland never held so much artistic promise.

Watching this film I was inspired by the potential to make art that documents the feeling and expression of a place in time. What would I say about the time and place I am in that is poignantly needing to be said for it’s own sake? I live now in a time when every person has the capacity to become a filmmaker. What is it that we can collectively say that matters and holds some substance about now? Are we in such a fragmented yet global society in today’s digital age that regional scenes cease to have the significance they once had?

This movie looks to be a short run art house engagement. If you are interested in do-it-yourself art films or the punk rock era of New York City this is definitely something worth seeing if it hits a theater near you.

Promotional Poster at

Jason Webley – Till Long Last We Meet Again

I first learned about Jason Webley about six years ago. Back when Myspace was still the king of social networking. In those days I was playing the Dresden Dolls first major release on nearly constant rotation. Being a huge fan I was intrigued by the artists they supported. Pretty much everything I found through them was amazing. But, the music of one person in particular left a lasting impression that stayed with me from first listen – Jason Webley.

From the first strains of hearing “Dance While the Sky Crashes Down” one of his most beloved songs, I was swept into this one part sinister and ominous world but with the guide of a voice of encouragement and strength. The passion of that song had me hooked. I looked around online for awhile and resolved that since I lived in Oklahoma, a place that often gets missed by artists of an avant-garde persuasion, I would probably never see him unless I traveled a good distance.

Over a year later in 2007 a good friend of mine told me that it was in our local alternative paper that he would be playing at a local coffee house not well known for out of town shows. I almost couldn’t believe it was happening there. I thought it must be some kind of mistake. But, it was indeed happening. He showed up along with his accordian, a beat up guitar that’s seen the world over and his vodka bottle filled with coins from all his world travels used as a percussion instrument.

What I had not expected was that the show would become a communal rite of sorts. A Jason Webley show is not about watching a guy play music while remaining detached from the show. It quickly becomes an involved experience.

Everyone becomes a part of the moment until the show is a group celebration of life’s joys and sorrows. It’s the same the world over – from the United States, New Zealand, Europe, to far off reaches of Norilsk, Russia where he saw the tears of weary miners in Siberia. Even in his home of Seattle, he is known as the guy who lead usually law abiding citizens into public fountains to engage in fun-spirited mayhem.

I got to know Jason after keeping in contact after that first show and helping coordinate bigger and better publicized events slowly helping in developing his fan base here. I looked forward to each time where people would be transformed to dance, to sing, to be like a child again. I will recall one night where all of the crowd that had stayed late after the show created a song together we would all monument for years to come. It was one of the most endearing times I’ve shared with my friends and I know people who still post that video years later to recall good times.

Last night I witnessed this magic again. The show was amazing and as you can see in the videos the crowd was excited. It was one of the best and a good cap to the years of being a part of these shows. I’ve enjoyed participating in these shows as an audience and a impromptu choir and being able to share the stage with some of my bands and projects. Last night I got to share the stage with many friends from Kabaret Falschtanz dance troupe and musicians I’ve enjoyed working with over the years.

The bitter sweet of the night is knowing this will be the last show for awhile. Jason has announced that he is taking an indefinite break from touring as this tour ends. After well over a decade of touring I can imagine it would get tiring. I am glad that he will finally get a chance to rest and regroup and figure out what the next chapter will be in his life. Hopefully for us all he will miss the road as many a musician finds they do. If not then I know what he decides to do he will do with passion.

But I will remember those shows. A gravelly shouting and as often sorrowfully soothing voice commanding the elements of dim lights and dark of a small and packed room. All of us strangers becoming friends for an evening – just a little more connected by this communal rite. In these shows calm faces becoming overcome with emotion as you can see in the videos as the bard in the animated pork pie hat leads people to find that place within them that can feel emotions freely.

I have had an enthusiasm to share what I find to be a person in touch with what raw true performance is about – someone that can truly connect with and inspire a crowd. It became my passion to bring more people into this world and see them be transformed. I would happily spend a tank of gas putting flyers around town, reminding everyone to come. I would proudly scour the venues to find the best place to perform the kind of show that can only be done in a venue that does not take from the magic. I will always be appreciative that Jason appreciated us. He always liked playing in Oklahoma and looked forward to coming back here. That type of open and unassuming nature towards people not on the coasts I admire. Those are the people who know that there is a soul deep in the hearts of places that shallow people never see or experience.

From Russia With Rock!

Pусский рок (Russian Rock) developed behind the Iron Curtain during the 1960’s. In the Soviet Union people went through great trouble to illegally import Beatles albums and roots music, avoiding the harsh gaze of the KGB. Russian rock music has as it’s roots music that came from America and the UK but it would soon take on forms of it’s own that would exhibit a slavic temperment and cultural asthetic. The phonetic sounding of the word rock (рок in Russian) has itself a connotation different than what Cleveland disky jockey Alan Freed had in mind when he coined the phrase. The word (рок means “fate” or “doom”. The mostly poetic term embodies the sense of somber earnestness in the music that is often political or about serious issues.

Things have undoubtedly changed and diversified with Russian exports of groups like T.A.T.U. who are a manufactured project intended for creating pop friendly dance music. However, many Russians view this music to be popsa, a term that is connected with the type of “safe” music that was released under Melodiya, the only authorized state run music distribution outlet in the Soviet Union.

The “Golden Age” of Russian rock music was during the 1980’s. Artists that had existed mostly underground and only able to play in other musicians apartments and other low visibility outlets were able to take advantage of the changes with perestroika to get wider audiences.

I am going to go through a brief history of various artists that have gained vast appeal amongst Russians but due to the cultural and political barriers have little to no ground in the western world.

In 1986 4 bands served as ambassadors of the Russian sound. The Album Red Wave highlighted bands from then Leningrad. It was brought to the U.S. through the efforts of Joanna Stingray, a native of L.A. who developed a strong relationship with underground Soviet bands and Boris Grebenshchikov, of the band Aquarium, an important band in the formation of Russian rock. The project was done without commercial profit and had to be smuggled by Joanna Stingray to the United States with final production done by Big Time Records in Los Angeles.

One of the bands on this album, Aquarium started out in the 1970's during a time when unauthorized musicians held apartment concerts, usually unplugged in intimate quarters so as not to alert the neighbors to call the police. They were a part of the folkish bard style of Vladimir Vysotsky but had as their muse the prog rock from the U.S.

More to Come…..

There are days when ideas seem to never come and the words are few in what to say. Today is not one of those days. I made a commitment to stay consistent with this blog. However, It’s been several days now since I’ve updated. I had intended to blog last night but I was a little busy ducking from tornadoes in my home state of Oklahoma. At one point I was literally circled by tornados either forming or on the ground in less than 50 miles of me in all directions.

I’m glad I waited. In planning for my subject I discovered a treasure chest of material. You could say that it invigorated a passion in me and had me wanting to learn and discover more on my subject matter. I have actually decided that the subject of the next blog post is going to be broken into a series.
For now, just know that I am working hard on the blog and have far from given up on it. I pride myself in doing as much research as I can reasonably afford to on subjects I post about. I want to do this one justice.

Also, just a note on changes. I recently chose to become an affiliate and you will notice that there are occasionally links to Amazon products. My reason for this is simply to have the option of having some kind of monetization to the blog for the time that I intend on putting into the endeavour. Like most people I am stuck in a 9 to 5 job that doesn’t afford me the time to do things I’d like to do and I struggle to pay the bills. A few extra dollars here and there are nice.

My commitment to you is to not flood the blog with annoying and pesky advertisements. I want to keep it a sleek and clean page that is focused on honest reviews and interesting content. I have intentionally avoided Google AdSense for the fact that I feel the ads aren’t likely to be relevant and are often obtrusive and tacky. Any products I link to will be relevant to the subjects in my articles. Thanks for understanding and I’m looking forward to providing new content.

1 Billion people do cocaine every day and probably do not even know it.

It is a well known story that the original 1885 formula for Coca Cola was sold as an elixir with it’s main medicinal ingredients being coca leaves and kola nuts, hence the name Coca Cola.

As a child I had an elderly neighbor who has long since passed away that recalled stories about the drink at the turn of the twentieth century where they would have endurance contests where he and other boys would dare each other to drink what he reported as being a much harsher, caustic drink to consume than it is today.

It was less than a decade after it’s arrival in the late 1800’s before a growing concern about the effects of cocaine began to raise issues over the safety of the formula. By the 1920’s the formula had been drastically altered to remove the cocaine properties.

But, what is not as well known is that cocaine was NEVER actually removed from Coca Cola.

As the story goes it was crucial to the right to the name Coca Cola that coca leaves be in the formula or else it would not be an accurate description of it’s contents. Without the key ingredient the right to the trademark name would not maintain.

So the solution to this dilemma comes through an unusual exception made by the Drug Enforcement Agency to allow the import of coca leaves that generally come from Peru and are then shipped to a Stepan Company plant in Maywood, New Jersey. It is the only commercial entity in the U.S. that is legally allowed to import coca leaves. It goes through a process of “de-cocainization” and is sold to Coke, while the active ingredient is used by pharmaceutical companies in various medicines.

However, don’t expect to get a buzz from this small amount of cocaine. The amount of active ingredient left in Coca Cola is reported to be less than one part in 50 million. But, it saves the name of one of the biggest giants in beverages known to humanity.

Carnality Ball 2011 – No Taboo

The Carnality Ball, now in it’s 5th year is an erotic art show created by talented Oklahoma artists Nicole and Jason Moan. This year’s title, No Taboo, was an exotic asian theme held at Club Raw on May 13th. There were plenty of beautiful and creative costumes as well as exciting performances to be seen. The highlight of the first half of the evening was the exhibtion by S.B.S. Suspension. A woman hoisted from the floor by flesh hooks sitting in a lotus position. The entire time she remained in such a deep trance state that she seemed blissful. It was an inspirational blending of an exotic sensuality with the spiritual.

Along with the dancers and models performing on stage there were performance artists, bands and this year a London Taxi ride. There was also a merchant room full of sexy fashions and merchandise. For a higher ticket price there was a VIP lounge area serving a buffet of sushi and refreshments. The ball is usually held in the spring of every year and generally boast an attendance of approximately 1500 people.

To climax the evening there was an enticing fashion show by Nicole Moan spotlighting her amazing ceramic corset fashions. She has made a name internationally with this niche fashion that she claims started as an idea for a personal costume for another well known erotic art show that Oklahoma holds. Years later from the night of that party I feel it has become her own show that is the title holder for the best erotic art show to attend in Oklahoma City.