Happy Memorial Day?

An explosion of sales! We drop bombs of value onto your shopping village! A shock and awe campaign of savings!

A bit extreme, isn’t it? I know. But pretty much, these are the messages we’re being bombarded with in our holiday sales ads.  And I’m staring at the television screen, or listening to the car radio slack jawed, and wondering, “What the front door does shopping have to do at all with honoring our soldiers fallen in the field of battle?” A whimsical part of my thinking takes me to dead Vikings breathing their last while the Valkyries descend upon them from the heavens with cash registers. Instead of taking them to Valhalla, they are instead whisked away to Macy’s.

What is wrong with our culture when we allow our collective intelligence and sensibilities to be so taken for granted? When did we allow the merchants to dictate to us our priorities? An excellent documentary, The Century of the Self, explains a lot as to why America was intentionally transformed from an economy based upon saving one’s earnings to one based upon spending them as rapidly as accrued, mad consumerism.

We say (tout under the same war banners even) that we are a nation based upon Christian ideals and values, but are we? Really? I’m not a believer, but I have read the Bible – a good percentage of it – and the only time Jesus reportedly lost his shit was when he saw that the merchants and money lenders were taking priority over the Holy. As I said, I’m no believer, but if one thing is indeed sacred to me, it’s the deaths of our soldiers, airmen, seamen and marines who died fighting for what they believed to be the preservation and safety of this nation.

I would hope that their honored sacrifices were for the core values, the ideals of the forefathers, and the promise of America to be the beacon of humanity, its innate optimism of being the country behind a positive evolution of mankind, and not for the bargains of merchandise brought down from a price that was already too high before the sale.

Seriously, there is something very, very wrong with the entire concept of a Memorial Day sale. If it was just about barbeque grills and discounts on travel, then this I could probably be okay with, as it would be applicable to what the holiday activities entail, families getting together to remember their fallen loved ones. But for department stores, clothing and, for goodness knows, all else?

Hey, maybe it’s just me. But it just feels wrong.

In the old days, back in the time of pay phones, when large and influential groups were displeased with a product, or even the contents of subject matter of a television show, (even though these groups may have been conservative and restrictive in their innately non-American ideals) there would be large boycotts of that product until the merchants or networks would have to capitulate and change their course, either pulling the product or improving it.

Who should be shopping on Memorial Day? Maybe if I put it like this: After a funeral, if you were to then go on a buying spree, then you are the one who should be out and about hunting for that bargain.

Let’s honor our fallen by respecting the value of their costs. Our self-indulgences (though part of this illusion of freedom) should not be about what new athletic shoes we can purchase.

Especially when, chances are, those shoes weren’t even made with American hands. Especially when, chances are, American livelihoods were disenfranchised because that corporation took those jobs from our soil to be made in another country for a profit, at the expense (pun intended) of the same Americans who will now be overpaying for them.

I doubt any of our fallen military would have given their lives for a disenfranchised middle class so oblivious to the fact that they are eating their own, that they’d be so deceived as to allow themselves to spend their hard earned (very hard earned) money on inflated goods taken from their own manufacturing hands to be sold back to them at some illusory bargain from another country where our corporations decided to plant the American flag for a profit without any care of the homelessness it would cause, or the despair and hopelessness resulting from our own citizenry who now had no means with which to earn a living.

Perhaps it’s easy for those still with their money to ignore such things because they aren’t experiencing it firsthand. For them, until the saturation of the software and tech industries reach its peak, (and it will, it has to) there is still disposable income. Perhaps for them, the idea of a fallen soldier is as cavalier as running water in the toilet or bidet, a quick wipe and it’s business as usual.

But that doesn’t sit with me. It should not with any of us. Not only should our ideals be held to a higher standard, so should the recognition of our fallen. And though it’s your American privilege to do so, if you’re one of those out shopping today, or have already gone, then you are in fact enabling this superficial and vapid system to thrive. Yes, you have the “right” to shop. You have the “right” to shop today. But this advantage is yours every day, isn’t it?

Why can’t today, be a time for quiet reflection on the horrors of war? Why can’t today be a time to consider how we allow ourselves to get into wars? Why can’t today be a time to hope that one day the very concept of war would be as appalling as rape, or incest, or pedophilia?

I hope that one day our Memorial celebrations will be about recalling a period when humanity was once short-sighted and primitive enough to sanction the now ancient concept of killing other humans, an archaic concept called: War.

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draeko damen


Grateful Speech and Stinging Nostrils

The house reeks of old carpet and cat urine.

It was once a lovely place, plain to see, but definitely not now.

Not sure if I can breathe anymore, I am grateful for the second hand cigarette smoke billowing from my hosts, and oddly enough grateful for their company.

This roof over my head is better than nothing, I guess.

But then again, nothing doesn’t reek.

To my left, there was thankfully an open window and, with even greater gratitude, a screen on it.  A humming bird, small and green, flittered on blurred wings over dark pink flowers that were petals opened towards the western sun.

My nostrils are stinging as if over some cage in some ill-maintained pet shop.

No drinking from the faucets of this place, the store bought water is closed tightly. It sits to my left on the dresser top that’s serving as a table for my laptop.

Despite my sadness, there is nostalgia here. There is precognition here.

My grandmother’s house had this scent, not so much the feline splatter as much as Chihuahua dog funk.

Full circle I’ve come. And I knew I would. There were nightmares.

It’s a hoarder’s house of empty soda cans, spots on the carpet you don’t dare stare too hard at, and piles of boxes, buckets and cans. Here reign very old lamps, and a very new television so out of place its ultra-real HD looks cartoonish.

The real high definition, in real life, is replete with olfactory stimulation, olfactory assault actually!

With pure intent, it is not with malice or contempt that this is written.

I should be grateful for it this night, for the next two, then it’s off to another friend’s place for several days.

Can I come back from this?

Does anyone ever come back?

Damen Smith Linked In_01

Not Winning Jackpot Nullifies My Narcissism                                                  

                    draeko damen      Damen Smith Linked In_01

At the risk of coming off incredibly more conceited than the title suggests, even from an early age, I was made to think there was a difference between me – and those telling me – that I was somehow unusual. Harry Potter has had it happen to him. You’ve had it happen to you. It’s probably something that happens to all academics. Most of us have had it said to us at least one point in our lives, by parents (not mine), or a teacher, or our best friends and lovers. My parents weren’t of that generation that even knew they were supposed to be the beacons of inspiration to their children.  Fortunately, as I’ve hinted at earlier, it’s not always the parents that warm your heart or inspire your mind to achieve beyond the sum of all your parts. Mine left this type of motivation to the outside world, to the streets, to nature, to God, and (most importantly) Santa, all of whom somehow convincing me that I was special. Although the latter rarely showed up.

I was led to believe that I was one step before short yellow bus, and a little close to being a very touching ABC afterschool… special.

Yep. At one point I was certain (with some scientific method applied) that I was psychic, possessed innate elemental gifts, a whisperer to the four-legged, and that I had a unique place in the universe. As child of the 60’s, growing up in the 70’s, such deductions were gotten fairly. With all the mojo and hoo-doo of that age, how could I have not eventually come to this way of thinking? Still, even though most of those hippy-based hopes have waned since my innocence crashed in 2008, there are still glaring remnants of it behind my smile, staring back full in the mirror.

So at least once a week, sometimes even twice depending on any “disposable cash” – and I am speaking in relative terms her, because my ducats are not, by any stretch of the imagination, ‘disposable’. Truth, I should be mentally insane right now, as penny pinchy as Jack Benny, and only spending anything when it’s essential. And then only after Congressional oversight. With my ‘disposable’ change, comes the purchase of a lottery ticket.

Sometimes it’s Lotto. Mostly it’s Powerball and Mega Millions. Never have done Scratch though.

An even line between narcissistic delusions of grand entitlement and distracted hope, the numbers are either carefully conceived or calculated, occasionally picked randomly en route, or they are derived from objects with digits beyond the 7-Eleven window. Aware that it’s almost a one in a 300 million chance of winning if I play, all those numbers would be reduced to total zero if I do not. So with that cheap preschool number two pencil (sometimes bringing one of my own, sometimes putting the number two because it’s the type of pencil) my vanity is then indulged. With this minute scribbler comes an existential confidence that I’m somehow chosen by heaven to win. Size does not matter.

After that deed is done. I fantasize about what I would do if I woke up a Monday multimillionaire. Those who took me in when I had nowhere to go. Those who gifted me with a coat for the cold, the people and learning institution to whom I am in debt, I would thank them and the Academy. Where would I live? Would I build or just buy? Would I stay where it is too very often rainy and gray? Would I, mere hours later, ride out in that R8, the one that’s taunted me from behind that show window? A road trip? Orthodontic work? Electrolysis? Hair transplant? There would definitely be yoga and a gym membership in the plan.

The odds are astronomical. But so is life. The universe loves me. There’s magic in my bones.

But what about these poor, unfortunate souls who actually won?  I would hope to have a bit more savvy than that. Still, that delusional narcissism is in here. It hints that I may one day be there, either through hard work or windfall.

The work has been hard! Today was the perfect day, me doing perfect thing. Stars are properly aligned – somewhere. I am set.

It is now the next day. And though it’s not the first thing done, having taken a walk out for some chai with a friend who’s letting me couch surf a bit, at last the Internet browser is engaged, the beach head of the lottery page invaded.

Scattered on the sands lay the torn remnants of red and white shredded tickets, the casualties of torn dreams. The cold slap in the face of surf and tide reminds, with a sobering wet, that neither life nor universe is fair.  The screech of a gull frustrated that its paper and not mana, suggests that maybe it’s about impartiality.

Why even contribute to the “poor man’s tax?” The motivation is quite primitive. Playing feels like hope. Maybe there are even varying degrees of faith, a faith in chance, along with egocentric conviction in one’s own uniqueness.

My needs so few these days, any lottery jackpot would be more than enough to reach comfort in retirement. Phyllis Diller (rest in peace) said, during her 2006 with Home Media Magazine, “Now that I’m really old, I realize one of the things it takes a lot of money to buy is silence.”<source of quote>

After watching that interview, that statement always stuck with me. Growing through a loud, often socially challenging background, the silence of libraries with sunlight and lots of alpine foliage is what I’ve continuously coveted. The rain is gone at the moment. Gold from the sky, illuminates the green all around me. Mostly conifer, some deciduous, it’s a welcomed kind of green.

It’s time to go about my day, mindful of debt, my soul chastened, not a muggle, and certainly not in possession of any practical magic.



The Sheer Barbarism of Local News

With a new outlook in life, a death of the old, and a birth of the new, I’ve come to find my voice. I’ve come to notice more things that I had heretofore ignored or had just taken for granted, like most of us seem to be doing.

Yesterday, on my first Mother’s Day, I was watching the local news at a friend’s house, on whose couch I’ve been surfing for the past two weeks, and I remembered why I stopped watching local news in my previous life.

Local news sucks major dingleberry.

There was one report of a truck losing control and running up a ramp and injuring one person.

Yeah. That’s terrible. And it would suck to be the person driving that truck, just as it would most definitely stink to high heaven to be the person on the other side of that grill.

But why is this news? Why does anyone other than the immediate family members or the emergency response teams involved need to know about this? Either of which would have their own notification systems in place. So, what’s the point of reporting this?

Why would every other person, not involved with this need to know that it happened? If either person has a family or an ICE, no doubt they’d be notified.  And as horrific an event as this is, there is no reason why I or you need to know of it.

Why is this news?

It isn’t.

It’s an event that occurred that some talking heads have deemed worthy to bring into our living rooms, not to build empathy – because this is not the Age of Empathy at all, but the Age of the Villian – but to boost their ratings.

And you get a clear idea of the callousness behind this horse-toothed reporting when they boast of being “the first to report it”.

This is madness beyond reckoning. And it needs to stop.

And the scariest part of it all is: turning off the local news, lowering their coveted ratings, would only result in them “creating” news. No, I’m not calling out “fake”.  But ala the Rodney King Riots and the irresponsible reporting thereof, I’m calling this out as being needlessly alarmist for the sake of them being on the air, for the sake of sponsors hawking local car insurance or second rate plumbing services.

Hey, we’ve all got to eat.

But my take: If it’s not relevant to national security, and overall public health and safety, or national politics, then we don’t need to hear about it.


Draeko Dahmen

Time Flies Relatively Fast

Forgive me Father for it has been nearly two months since my last BLOG post.

I have been to San Franciso, back to Seattle, to Pittsburgh, back to San Francisto, to Venice Beach, and now three hostels later, I am in San Diego.

The range of incredible people, with whom I have had the incredible opportunity to engage conversationally, exceeds my current ability to process and transcribe into words.

This past month has been on the edge of purgatory.

Where I go next week, that will determine which edge.

I’m looking at at least one hail Mary.


Auditing Old Files…

I found this one today, written in 2009.


Mankind alone presents such a colossal threat to our selves that survival of most, or even a fraction, of the species seems very unlikely. The ignorance of this threat is so compounded by our own sense of importance that the rallying cry among even the very best and brightest of us is, “Save the Planet”.


Canvassers of Green Peace – eerily only seen around the market places and never near the foliage of city parks or camping grounds – have in their clutched hands, on those laminated notebooks, that same plea/command in that big bold green san serif font, “Save the Planet”.


Yes, even those of us committed to forestalling mankind’s part in global destruction seem oblivious to the fact that we can’t save the planet. It is the planet that is constantly saving us.


Through war, plague, or cosmic impact, the planet Earth will exist. It may cease to be the Big Blue Marble, but it will continue to exist with or without us. As it has shown and clearly demonstrated in its 4.5 billion year old geological record, it has. In the worse case scenario, a new life matrix, a new world order of an ecosystem sooner or much later would eventually reaffirm itself. At first, it was the single cells, then the multi-cellular entities, then fish and amphibian, then the reptiles, and currently the mammalians. Perhaps after the next massive level of destruction, the world would fall onto the insectivorid.


My apocalyptic view reflects both scenarios of apocalypse, man-caused and geologic.


The human system of things cannot possibly endure. It is too myopic. It relies way too much on religiosity, mysticism, or technological optimism to save us from the rigors that pollution and geocentric exploitation has wrought (or will) upon us.


The planet Earth, it is a dynamic sphere that, in its entire existence, has never displayed an average climate. It is a dynamic sphere that has a dark history of extinction level cataclysms, a world of shifting tectonic plates on continental scales, grumbling super volcanoes, restless oceans, and bi-polar wind systems.


To believe that there will never again be another great destruction, to not see the distinct possibility of another impending doom, is beyond any concept I can fathom of wise reasoning. To me, it is a given.


But to fret and lament beyond the urgings for us to acknowledge and seed the stars, in my opinion, represents an even more profound insult to life.


In the blink of an eye, the lowly gnat has to live an entire life cycle. It flies and mates with glee in the warmth of a sun that will one day betray us all. For the brief moment that it lives, its clings to that life to ensure its kind lives on for yet another brief moment in time, and its offspring will do the same.


The sparrows soar with joy on the wind that will one day devastate them, even knowing that within this capricious time of calm, they could be taken from the heavens by a diving hawk beyond their purview of senses.


And humans, we dance despite the hardships in our lives. We love today with the hopes of a forever, because we have today.


Yes, the world will end. Be it tomorrow, 2012, or 5 billion years from now when our sun goes nova, it will end. It and we are finite.


Knowing this and accepting this makes every second of living just that much more the worthy enterprise that it is…more miraculous, and…much more enlivening. I see the world and all life within it as fascinating phenomenon. I believe the challenges which all organisms face within their myriad and collective environments as necessary challenges. These are contests borne of the rule that drives survival of the fittest and the undeterred ever adjusting direction of evolution. It goes down to the single cells, this protocol of tooth and claw. I see the universe as neither fair or cruel, or as human friendly.


There is a balance of natural forces that work on a marriage of equals and opposites.


The universe is what it is. It is cold and hot. And everything that exists within it is natural; else it would not exist within it.


Perhaps one day man will reach beyond the clouds and stars and this time establish a strong handhold. Perhaps one day we will have the wisdom to take all of our eggs out of this one basket.


We can only hope and work towards that.


The ele-mental’s diary 7/21/2009

Mary May


What can anyone say to the mysteries of life? We plan it one way, and it ends up another. Though we try with all our might to make a different path.

But who can know?

What will happen, when your foot steps out of that door, past that threshold?

No one knows.

And besides, the ultimate end is death anyway.

Who has ever escaped that?

I’m going to ignore the religious based comments on this one, because… Well, that’s quite frankly a quagmire.

To be happy.

The attempt to be such while being responsible and of a mind to take ownership of one’s own antics.

But getting caught up in pride, and ego, that’s no way to do it either.

The trick is to find the middle ground, between vanity and humility. But how do you accomplish this with a thin skin?

And if you developed a thick skin, then wouldn’t you also be adding to the woes of the world?

So, many questions.

So many answers to even more questions.

Oh, there is that feeling.

When one believes in himself or some external force.

It’s when the group think kicks in the midst that it becomes a hassle to the rest of us.

Why is that?

When did this begin among humanity?

What I am meaning to ask is when that incorporated neurosis became a part of the human protocol of communication with one another?

The world is burning around me and I’m seeking happiness?

What … Is there something wrong with this picture?

Who’s to say?

Who’s to determine the single world direction of human kind?

There can only be war to homeostasis.

If nothing else a war of wills until if/when we evolve.

So many factors may offer hurdles preventing us from achieving that potential.

Factors geographic and meteorological come to mind initially.

Mankind has to determine what we want.

Do we want Beethoven or Mozart?

Do we want traditional music, or electronic?

Electronic music would make sense, wouldn’t it?  We generate product of decadence with the materials we have conquered as a species, as a civilization. When we conquered rock and stone, our instruments were rock and stone. When we conquered wind and air our instruments were made of wind and air. Now that we have conquered the binary, in a sense, our instruments would fall onto an electronic/computer based material base.

Autumn Begotten

Fear always comes to mind. It is such a tool, in both the good sense and the bad. For the good, it teaches us to be wary of potential foes – if we are fortunate – and for the bad it can lead to delusional thinking and paranoia.

Again, finding the middle ground between the two seems the only logical decision at this time.

The world has caught up to me. What I used to write about in my comic books when I was a boy, at least the gadgetry, has come to roost, the bad leadership across the board, a good many of it.

I am a bit disappointed however that there are not (flying) cars en masse as the Jetson’s promised.  There are some, just not on the mass market. And in even deeper introspection regarding my desire to see flying cars, I must ask myself if whether or not the future where human kind was not as distracted to handle flying cars en masse was a part of that futuristic wish.

One would hope that it would have been.

Because as it is now, I don’t think anyone would want their personal residences, places where they sleep, in the potential risk range of a drunken flying car driver or one texting his girlfriend to come crashing through their living rooms.

I personally think the only reason why they aren’t in production on the same level as the automobile is because the military, for a whole host of reasons, wouldn’t ever sign off on them.

Most of those reasons valid.

I guess there could be zones where they could be permitted, but would there be any air traffic control involved?

How would that even work?

First World question: Is life so much a pain all the time? Or is it our perceptions of it? Is ambition a bad thing?

There is a Buddhist saying that desire is the cause of all suffering.


Draeko ~ try being as much as you are thinking