Tag Archives: Rounthwaite

A Fuzzy Sort Of Genius Said The Surveyor To The Inventor

music-survives
Music Survives
samplex

Date: Tue Apr 22, 1997 1:35:25 PM

George, it's quite eerie to be shooting the breeze with a fellow named Rounthwaite, not the one I used to know, but, hey, it's a living!

Well, I note you are about my wife's age. Sue was born in October, 1949. The Gabster in 1955. I also recall that our poet's "assumed" name was often mispronounced as Dye-lan in those early days, much the same way nine of ten people will pronounce my name TIE, and still stumble after I correct them, saying "it's THY as in THESE." Meanwhile, being somewhat younger and mostly absorbed in Little League and the Boy Scouts when Dylan made his first big splashes across the psyches of a generation I discovered Bob in 1974 off some midnight radio show in Atlanta then playing whole album sides. Dylan was featured on Blonde on Blonde. Instant fixation. Within six months I'd bought ALL of the existing 25 or so albums Dylan had produced to date, and have not missed one since. Well, there was that Dylan & the Dead reprise I've never owned, but, you get the picture...I don't worship Dylan, and actually disagree with him on some of his public stands, but I do proclaim him the unmistakable prophet of the rock-n-roll era.

My first George subscribed to the "all rock music is satanic" school of critical analysis. Where I would read freedom and God's thunder into a line of lyric, he could read only slander and blasphemy into the most innocent or profound statements ever voiced. I recall a 1976 Manfred Mann tune off the Roaring Silence album, as melodic as Brahm's lullaby, and as innocently worded as Jesus Loves Me, Yes I Know, called Questions. The opening lyrics:

          "In a dream it would seem
          I went to those who close the open door
          Turning the key I sat and spoke to those inside of me...
          They answered my questions with questions
          And pointed me into the night
          Where the moon was a star painted dancer
          And the world was just a spectrum of light."

Well, when I played the tune after inviting him to my apartment after work to specifically hear a rock song I thought he would love, George paused and then translated for my benefit what he heard. Sodomy! WHAT? I exclaimed, pulling out lyric sheet to validate the words I knew I was hearing, while he summed up his position with a solid, "They know what they are doing." After regaining my composure I listened again, and tried my best to twist "inside of me" into what George wanted me to hear. It was fruitless. I gave up, and never mentioned music again until a few years later.

He seemed perplexed with the question, obviously having had forgotten his explanations of evil roots in rock music some three years before, which of course to my young, casual, then 22 year-old mind, had been carved in stone as holy writ from a man I respected while at the same time suspecting that indeed he was in need of me as godsent to help free him from the risky constraints of a Mosaic law he practiced so alone and terrified as vigorously as any Hasidic Jew roped to the Wailing Wall yet without that group's traditional support system or long veritable history in place.
Even the rock beat was anathema to George, contrary to the natural rhythms of the heart, he said, aiming from the two-one versus one-two heart rhythmic flow argument, or some obscure nonsense like that. While certainly not wrong at face value, George submitted himself and his family to a rather starke, even stoic lifestyle, harrumphing all art and costumery as missing the mark, all biblically tweaked interpretations of God's will, mind you, but the despair of not ever audibly hearing the strong voice of God reach him with the purpose of clearing up all the confusion of love for his dedications was noticeable not only in George but in his family. His elder son Robert, for the whole of the four years I knew the Rounthwaites, suffered a strange illness. George had taken Robert to every doctor imaginable, every medical specialist, every faith healer, herbalist, kosher practitioner he could finger in the Houston and nearby areas. Nobody, not a single wit, could diagnose or cure Robert's problem. Apparently he recovered and grew into a normal healthy 21st century fellow, but as a youngster of 8-12, his belly was bloated out in proportions easily recognized in this country as the byproduct of emotional and physical distress characterized by starving African children seen on American television via those fundraising segments. A thin gangly youth with a ninth-month pregnancy bulge. It was a sad situation, particularly since I had suspicions, once a nervous kid from a stress-hungover dysfunctional family myself, that Robert was both undernourished and severely anxiety-plagued. All the vitamin-popping, yogurt-skimming perfection-driven regimentation in the world is no replacement for the harmony of social normalcy, despite its own obvious pitfalls. But George was savvy to all these advicemongers. He boasted that he didn't want Robert to be normal. He was a top achiever at the stellar magnate school in Houston. He was being groomed for greatness by God's own will, George must have told himself a thousand years packed into a few a mere child must live. George had a way of shutting down the most vocal of protestants, myself and his wife Ann included. As I left Houston that Sunday afternoon after a weekend of being throttled at every grasp for light my own artistically-inclined fevers had prompted, I finally worked up enough courage to tell George that he had an uncanny way of drowning the crying voices of those he claims to love. As the words left my mouth, his wife Anne hysterically burst into tears nodding agreement and thanking me profusely for my purposeful word. George, actually, took the news very calmly, not that he was ever a vigorously harsh man, and suggested that he sort of felt that indeed he did have a problem along these lines. As I say, George was a strong personality with a huge impish grin that never left his face even when he strongly disapproved of a point of order. I am sure he was capable of powerful thunders with family, but this potential thunder was well-concealed by a quiet strength among those outside his jurisdiction.

When I saw a Tchaikovsky cassette (and player, wow, great strides!) in his home this last time I visited, after I thumbed my way from Corpus to Houston with a severe urgency to somehow quench an agonizing spiritual thirst I was suffering at the time with what I'd hoped to be George's keen insight, having not seen him in about three years since I left Texas for a 15-month chicken farm stint in Florida, I asked him about the beat notation of the classical composer on his shelf. He seemed perplexed with the question, obviously having had forgotten his explanations of evil roots in rock music some three years before, which of course to my young, casual, then 22 year-old mind, had been carved in stone as holy writ from a man I respected while at the same time suspecting that indeed he was in need of me as godsent to help free him from the risky constraints of a Mosaic law he practiced so alone and terrified as vigorously as any Hasidic Jew roped to the Wailing Wall yet without that group's traditional support system or long veritable history in place.

In my travels I'd get invited into Negro churches, and be summoned to the dais, and those pews sitting on the right hand of God's very spokesperson, be put on display, and then hear the pastor mouth the words five, ten, fifteen times throughout his sermon that they didn't see color there. Uh, obviously they did. That's how I became part of the spectacle, sir, so it seems I am now a troublemaker. I have been physically chased out of some of the very same churches for politely asking a simple question about the flag standing there in the corner as it relates to Jesus of Nazareth. I wanted an honest response from an honest man of God, and in return I literally had to flee like Jesus from the cliffs of the dove as curses were hurled at my head...
Oh man, I'm sorry for being so top-heavy with my own blatherings, but it seems that you have indeed perfected the love so many of us struggle to achieve while mouthing all the right things at all the right times but can never seem to embrace the now. Both my parents are very much alive, generally healthy, but hardly free from their own particular insanities. A younger brother, who is much more fiscally sound that I am, has taken the responsibility for keeping a roof over their heads these past few years. I wish I could report that my family ties are as rewarding as your own, but despite our best intentions, we are an arrogant bunch, and arrogance will always conflict with itself, if not today, then tomorrow...

Put plainly, we are mostly a bunch of underachievers who feel somewhat abused by the world around us. Our earlier enthusiasms have turned to chafe and disillusionment. Despite our talents, we require the world to offer us a silver platter, and when that is not forthcoming, we sit around in sackcloth and ashes and foam at the mouth. We are terminally unhappy, while boasting in glee. We want to help others but we can't help ourselves. We speak from our spirits while loathing our bodies. We are a sterile bunch because even our goodness is shared for a price and a draft choice to be named later. This is why I know the other George so well. He often declared that we were similar, had had similar past lives (not in the Shirley Maclaine, but in the temporal sense) and that he wanted to help prevent me from falling into the same ditches he had fallen. It's always amazing to me how helpless we are to prevent so much.

Kudos! Both my George, and I—to an even greater degree—are non-sectarian believers of a similar sort of inspiration you describe, however he seemed to assimilate best with the businessman charismatic variety of fundamentalist crowd. I went to a dozen or so of those meetings with him over time, and they revealed nothing but confusion in my presence. Speaking in tongues and interpreters it seems God had to remind this classy crew of Christlovers every time they gathered in the presence of somebody who wore sandles and puffy white long-sleeved shirts and of course the obligatory long but clean-stylish hair that God loved everybody. It didn't matter what they looked like. Geez, all this seemed so surreal and yet as petty as it gets to me, that this was what God always pointed out. In my travels I'd get invited into Negro churches, and be summoned to the dais, and those pews sitting on the right hand of God's very spokesperson, be put on display, and then hear the pastor mouth the words five, ten, fifteen times throughout his sermon that they didn't see color there. Uh, obviously they did. That's how I became part of the spectacle, sir, so it seems I am now a troublemaker. I have been physically chased out of some of the very same churches for politely asking a simple question about the flag standing there in the corner as it relates to Jesus of Nazareth. I wanted an honest response from an honest man of God, and in return I literally had to flee like Jesus from the cliffs of the dove as curses were hurled at my head...

While it may appear in retrospect that these are classic hippie manipulations, let me be clear that I had little truck with the drifting fools of that era, being a hardworking surveyor by trade,and besides, hippies were out of fashion by 1978. Disco was in. And I was a dancer by night, worker by day, sandle shuffler in leisure. It wasn't until the wild-eyed punks came to town that I buried myself up to my neck in filth and arrogances enough to choke an elephant, all in the name of exploring the myths behind the matters most of us simply take for granted. And of course, I haven't told you of an earlier marriage to a Jehovah's Witness in 1973. I was eighteen, a virgin. She was 36, mother of three, including my best friend at the time. I had just left home in Florida for Indiana after graduating highschool. It was a sexual mishap, guilt, end of the world, more guilt, et cetera, ad nauseum. The bizarre is my norm, as you surely surmize by now, George.

The fact that I sit sequestered in my house without stepping outside sometimes for seven to ten days, and that may be just to take out the trash, doesn’t help my situation, but then in the 1980s-until present, I have proven myself ill-equipped to deal with the cliquish public.
I am a writer, and have always known myself to be such a creature since childhood, and yet I never finish a project. A tragic lack of self-confidence as indicated above as a family trait cripples my resolve. And while I know I should focus more on the reality of getting something substantial written, and then published, I always pop in with another project while the other simply withers on the vine. Oh, I have been published in little bits and pieces, but the rejections have finally snuffed out almost any desire to succeed in this all so iffy and trendy area for which my path I believe entitles me to exploit for the sake of giving back to a world that gave so much to me. My spiritual quandry is this: am I revelling in all the gross insanities of my life seeking to cash in on disgrace, or would I perhaps be doing a small segment of humanity a great service for allowing them to share a life so pockmarked with good intentions while paralyzed by the sheer enormity of the struggle, of wrestling with the angelic trumpets of freedom? And don't think I am not persistently, every day, all day pleading for guidance, direction, a stamp of approval. My problem is I believe in coincidences as the countenance of the Almighty One until I don't, am embarrassed by appearing gullible, and am forced to write them off as mere mathematical probability.

Yes, overintellectualization is a great procrastination tool. My wife has supported financially for the past seven years this fantasy of mine that I can actually write a book or two that will just vanish off storeshelves like gold bricks, or the Celestine Prophecy, or some other romping thriller, giving us a financial cushion for our later life, which seems just around the corner with increasing regularity these days, health crises being what they are. I now feel I owe her this success, and the weight of that burden is astonishing to me as I try to figure out a plan for making some money off something I obviously am quite prepared to do rather well. Over the years she buys these books titled, "Why Smart People Fail" and "Secrets for Self-Motivation." Of course she doesn't read them, and neither do I, but they make handsome additions to that growing library of motivational books we'll never have time to read because we're too motivated to reads much these days that isn't online.

Unfortunately she is not part of the business. In other words, while a quiet financial supporter of my will to genius, she remains aloof to my work. Her behavior is a product of her own flawed, introverted personality, and not because she doesn't care deeply for me and what I am about. She actually, and I've tested for flattery and whimsy, so she passes my own authenticity tests, but she believes I am some lurking genius of my generation, but two by two he sent them out, and ever since I wrote a poem in 1980 incorporating that sentiment, I have been looking for just a single devoted editor or sycophant who could rally me in my weaknesses, trumphet my successes, speak to those I can't and shut up when I am speaking to those I can, like Aaron to Moses, or Ginsberg to Kerouac, or something like that, but that personality has never found me, or if they did, they found me lacking. The fact that I sit sequestered in my house without stepping outside sometimes for seven to ten days, and that may be just to take out the trash, doesn't help my situation, but then in the 1980s-until present, I have proven myself ill-equipped to deal with the cliquish public. So currently I bury myself in E-mail correspondence and building the iMote website, still in its infancy, but a medium which delights me, and intrinsically exploits all the motives except the hope of financial reward I can fancy. I have even carved out a theory that once I have achieved a level of success with this site I will finally have enough confidence to churn out those books I know I must write to die a happy God-justified man.

Congratulations on knowing the truth, for it has set you free from the shackles of those who would parade their own righteousness before the world when we both know, there is no righteousness, just feeble measures on a one to one basis, and while we are admonished not to pine for that Great and Terrible Day of the Lord when fire will consume the earth, one can’t help but wonder, how much longer Lord, how much longer does each generation corrupt itself on the sins of its ancestors, all of whom are named and thus flamed with the shames of Adam, while the mirror remains cracked…
So George Rounthwaite, you have weathered a swirling pandemonious hurricane named Gabriel Thy. My hope is that my burden has not been more than you bargained for when you first replied to my query. I appreciate your motivations and your sharing of personal details. And to think my former mentor George made this long stroll across the posturing wires of yesterday and tomorrow possible with his memory in my head today. Thanks for your time. It pains me that Robert's pain is still greater than he can absolve. Maybe on second thought I might appreciate his phone number after all, at least to have on hand in case some future occasion arises where I feel I can actually do some good for the family. George gave me the name of a pastor he knew from Texas now located here in Washington, DC where I live. I called him, but the man while quite pastorally polite and forthcoming didn't quite comfort me with all his talk of demons and such. Not that I necessarily discount demonology per se, but this pastor said that when he first saw George at a distance (ex-wife Ann had discovered this pastor's church), he knew George was not someone he would want to meet. Duh? Judge not is his job, for Pete's sake! I knew from that mortal description this pastor would definitely not like my kind either, so I white-lied in vague terms about coming to his church in the near future after he asked. Apparently his gifts of discernment are not as effective over the telephone. If George, a Spartacus man for the ages, giftedly handsome, well-attired, and well-spoken failed to measure up to this man's doormat churchology, I knew Gabriel the Tattooed Elephant, would send him running across the street to catholicism looking to borrow some holy water to toss on the demons of my now rather crude likeness, my youthful prettiness long ago a thing of past photographs and miserly inventions. The Jehovah Witnesses are right on this point: the Great Whore of Babylon in the Book of Revelations is the church, but unfortunately they think they are separate from christendom while mere ruthless pretenders to the same legalistic throne of all its predecessors, just another lovely cult of lonely people misunderstanding their humanity. When the admonition "to flee from her" is interpreted properly, your own interpretaion is the correct one. Congratulations on knowing the truth, for it has set you free from the shackles of those who would parade their own righteousness before the world when we both know, there is no righteousness, just feeble measures on a one to one basis, and while we are admonished not to pine for that Great and Terrible Day of the Lord when fire will consume the earth, one can't help but wonder, how much longer Lord, how much longer does each generation corrupt itself on the sins of its ancestors, all of whom are named and thus flamed with the shames of Adam, while the mirror remains cracked...

A fuzzy sort of genius said the surveyor to the inventor,

GT

"Don't ask me nothin' about nothin'. I just might tell ya the truth"
-Bob Dylan

Three Engineers Named Rounthwaite

engineer
The Engineer's Case
samplex

Date: Sat, 19 Apr 1997 11:56:21

I apologize for the intrusion, but after stumbling across the name, I was wondering whether you are the George Rounthwaite, formerly of Houston, TX, a surveyor (engineer), or are you perhaps his son, Robert, whom I knew to be living and working in the Redmond area?

I am the former Richard Nix, now Gabriel Thy, living in Washington, DC, but I won't bore you with sentiments except to wish you good health and fine purpose. If you are not this Rounthwaite clan, I apologize again.

Part Two...

Yes, that is the same Robert I knew as a young boy of 8-9 way back in the late 70s. His father, George, whom I consider one of three post-parental mentors of my early 20s had a debilitating stroke about five years ago, and from what I gather over a couple of very awkward phone conversations and a short jumbled letter he is still reluctantly estranged from the family he loves very much. When I saw your name on one of the Internet Registers (I forget which, already, sorry), I was hoping on a long shot that George had relocated to Washington in the care of his son Robert, who does indeed work for Mister Bill, and had embraced the Net. It's been about eighteen months since I last talked to him. My sin. I'm afraid I have few comforting words in my vocabulary. Thanks for your offer of locating Robert's phone number, but I think I must decline your generosity. I have not seen Robert, or George for that matter, since 1980, and frankly I would find a cold call to him rather unnerving, not to mention how he might feel. I am much more comfortable with E-mail in certain, well no, MOST situations, and realizing the Rounthwaite family unit as somewhat in ill-repair, I hesitate to step in.

Actually the whole tale goes on for some twenty or so pages in an unpublished novel sitting on my harddrive, as secretly as if it had never been written, because naturally, being of sound mind and not merely out for kicks, there were contributing facts both prior to and after the utterances and the writing of the name, as you might imagine, but since I hardly dare bore you with those details at this point in our communication, I’ll just say thanks for asking…
It was astonishingly difficult even talking to George. Fourteen years had passed before I called him out of the blue back in 1995. You see, old friend George is a hardcore Christian fundamentalist, a very bright, very well-educated man who sought to please God more than the most stringent theology can ever permit. The very passion of health and fitness, George suffered his stroke rather prematurely while still in his early to mid-fifties. It is my perception, not without hints of validation, that his intensity for religion finally cracked both his family ties and his physical well-being. It's a very sad tale of which I was hoping a reunion had overcome...

As for the name change operation, it's quite a long story, but the short version is that after a period of twenty months or so of uttering on a whim to strangers in Corpus Christi TX whenever I was being introduced that"...my name is Richard Spalding Nix, but I'm in the process of a name change operation," the deed was finally accomplished on November 13, 1983 in Atlanta when I wrote the line in a poem that "I took the name Gabriel Thy...", a day that also happened to be my mother's birthday, whatever that has to do with anything. It was only three days later, after going back to edit the poem that I actually noticed the line for the first time. "Eureka!" I shouted, and the rest is history. Actually the whole tale goes on for some twenty or so pages in an unpublished novel sitting on my harddrive, as secretly as if it had never been written, because naturally, being of sound mind and not merely out for kicks, there were contributing facts both prior to and after the utterances and the writing of the name, as you might imagine, but since I hardly dare bore you with those details at this point in our communication, I'll just say thanks for asking...

Yes, Gabriel Thy is my legal name now, since 1984. Being the creative sort who tries to live by the strength of his words (failing miserably of course), while sporting this nasty habit of trying to coerce others to live up to their own, I took the plunge and made it official. But life goes on, under any name, and any banner, and it's a damned shame God is such a mysterious force in the histories of man, offering much consolation and pomposity to so many and so much pain, so much confusion to so many others without rhyme or reason to sift out the differences...

GT

Whatever's Left Of Rounthwaite Gnaws At This Map Of Houston

surveyors
You Said I Was Born To Be A Surveyor
samplex

Thirteen years! In and of itself thirteen years even to my 38 year old mind does not seem like such a long time, but when I am reminded of the numerous changes I have spent on the road a whole lot louder than I was then, and now that some of your own changes have been plugged into the equation, I am smacked with emotion. After several eager dialings over the course of these years to metropolitan Houston directory assistance to confirm that you still maintained a telephone in the area, I finally found the courage to ring you up, facing whatever destiny our two paths had reckoned. Certainly delighted I did, reassured by your innate friendliness, although I must admit. I never expected news of a debilitating cerebral stroke nor the loss of your Christian wife to another man. Unsure of your own willingness to presently discuss with someone of my distance these two very personal issues, I will not press for details, but whatever strikes your fancy within your own comfort levels and timing.

Even as I hastily type out this preamble to what shall certainly evolve into a lengthy dispatch, because my own natural stimulus leaves no stone unturned, no ambiguity unanalyzed, no shadow unembraced, once I discover them hiding under a rock, a leaf, a building, a field of arguments no man has ever built and they came running, particularly after all these years of silence and personal migrations, reconfigurations, makeovers, retooling—I feel my language in this letter will never wholly match in faithfulness my spirit to explain those matters of choice which simply cannot be explained with tiring the reader. Some say I never get to the point. As an old journeyman land surveyor I celebrate the line—the line made of up infinite points, intersecting points, points of curvature, end points, beginning points, random points, topological points, non-existent points, hidden points, blocked points, coordinate points, and error, accumulative error. I take advantage of this knowledge.

Beyond outward appearances, inward cesspools, or the algebra of faith, it is easy to admit that my flesh has never been able to trigger its own comfortable purposes; my pawning gnawing spirit—yearning forcefully toward some sort of systematic success never quite available however carefully transcribed to me in secret languages beyond the scope of others, even my devoted wife’s stunted curiosity—still rages against my body proving an easily recognizable quantum that the body has spent a lifetime stifling the spirit and the spirit a lifetime of trying to void the body.

That is to say, the cult of love, as it instructs and subsequently withers (or puddles) the individual psyche into parasitic perversions symptomatic of or fluid to a basic yet unraveling (diluted) meaning of life, is the story of the self-replicating worm colony feeding upon the cold marbleizing carcass representing the association between love and death gone untold. Mostly.
But this isn’t news in any language. Thousands of years and millions of minds have conspired to convert the eternal rites of passage into a mere truism dried of all meaning. My life I’m afraid has been a testament to the inflexible conflict between passion and indifference, the conflict of the lion and the lamb residing within the same skeletal savannah, of the need to know versus the need to forgive and forget, escaping numbers only to falter along ruinous paths maximizing the storms of an irregular personality marking the forehead with faith while resisting the queues of metaphorical Babylonia which seem to know only what molten men of the hour can teach and respect solely on a statistical curve.

Trajectory failure, one chapter at a time, as only a man of unquenchable thirst can survive is not only an interesting sentence, it does not erect imaginary fences either. The apparent loss of God the Waterbearer is rank speculation and dog tired dogma, the two strong vices which still snarl my flesh, and its façade like immeasurable strands of thread wrapped around a burning man, yet they still engage and tempt me into feeling justified in rejecting what’s leftover of love's devices, the word itself having degenerated into merely another cultural pathos. That is to say, the cult of love, as it instructs and subsequently withers (or puddles) the individual psyche into parasitic perversions symptomatic of or fluid to a basic yet unraveling (diluted) meaning of life, is the story of the self-replicating worm colony feeding upon the cold marbleizing carcass representing the association between love and death gone untold. Mostly.

Leaving on March 11, 1979, the day after my brother’s wedding, I set out to explore the nature of God, myself, and the way, only a few days after you baptized me at my request in that sad moonlit apartment pool in the southwest sector of the city in which we were then living.
These past weeks since hearing your proud cheerful voice exactly as I remember it have been pocked with recurrent memories of our regular theological exchanges. For sixteen years that voice and those words have echoed through my mental and spiritual chambers. It is no exaggeration to say that probably not a month has passed in all those many that you, your family, and the boast of our fellowship did not enter my social milieu like rainclouds over parched clay both to inspire and to challenge my efforts to attain God’s Tender Will. Indeed you have exerted a major influence over my life. I have dozens, perhaps tens of dozens of times, employed the title—My First Post-Parental Mentor—when referring to you in recollection among contemporaries. This admission is not meant to flatter or embarrass you, merely state a relationship.

While appropriate honor is certainly intended, I mention this only to emphasize your timely importance in my life. I was a fledgling 23 in the Texan autumn of 1978, still perky from the jarring experience of marrying and separating from a Jehovah Witness twice my age heavy with three kids, when we first surveyed together under the tricky financial wings of lovable diamond-mouthed Larry Godfrey, two extraordinary surveyors charged with the task of laying out the figure eight track at the City of Houston Police Academy and other site preparation tasks at the airport next property line over.

I lived and worked in Houston precisely three days plus one year. I gave away most of my possessions. Everything in my apartment in fact, save my books, music, and the short change of clothes I could fit into my car. Leaving on March 11, 1979, the day after my brother’s wedding, I set out to explore the nature of God, myself, and the way, only a few days after you baptized me at my request in that sad moonlit apartment pool in the southwest sector of the city in which we were then living—a wide open city still growing by a thousand people a week, a high stakes city still burbling in a the last big Texas oil boom, a sprawling segregated city that claimed to be the nation's fifth largest at that time, a wildcat city of mighty skyscrapers, whipping freeways and mile after mile, neighborhood after neighborhood of busy, treeless parallel and perpendicular lines paved in spectacular unwavering concrete grids, nostalgic signage, barrios, gringos pushing & shoving a 40/40 population wheelhouse, a city which I would only return once more after I left this time in my Blue Devil 305.

Regrettably, little has changed in that regard even now. Studies among the exegeses of Tolstoy, Schweitzer, Pascal, St. Augustine, Van Gogh, Cayce, Goethe, Tillich, Gibran, Pascal, Rousseau, Paine, Durant, and other biblical and ethical commentators filled my head with all too many strange transfixing questions and all too few answers, presaging an addiction to the printed word which still haunts me.
Within three months of packing myself into my car I landed a job as a caretaker on a chicken farm in Nassau County, Florida, just north of Jacksonville. Forty thousand fluttering birds my equal needed to be fed, quenched, and culled, water and feed troughs cleaned, manure and fresh wood chips shoveled, dead birds buried. This period proved to be a sharp lesson in the intentional devaluation of the self. Farming a half acre assortment of vegetables and fruits, I ate sparingly, becoming emaciatingly thin on a diet of little meat, mainly an occasional roasted fowl or catfish caught in the lagoon off Lofton Creek at the back of the cabin where I lived alone and satisfied that I walked with a living savior. Those days were delightful, pure, serene, purposeful, quixotic, flowing, and the night air was lucid for bookworming and practicing in earnest what I had hoped would one day manage to keep me in cottage and applied theory—the writing craft.

Bare minimums were code. A secluded sandbottomed lagoon wrestling with beauty offered itself for skinny dipping and the daily summer bath. Loneliness was sometimes a factor at Lofton Creek, alone as I was, caring for the unflappable birds and tending the fields of manure-fertile raw vegetable goodness I planted. Youthful polarity provided the future with great purpose as I craved to learn the ways of the intellectual, the saint, the poet, the madman whom the world, Jew or Gentile, could not force its indistinguishable patterns onto without the consent of the governed, daring to transcend each and every stone cast upon the pond, walking the walk, talking the talk, bending and bowing to the rays of the constant light within. Ah, such is the reverie of an uncouth youth seeking to belong to himself.

Landlord and his wife, the Earl Wilson's, who lived in their National Register Tabby home ten miles away in town, would occasionally bring out a mess of rockshrimp and a feast of the few would be promptly called. Fellowship, tangency, and the delicate prospering of a solitary man’s vital era ranked among the finest times I have ever achieved and was common to each visit and each conversation we shared, a genteel but unaffected mutual regard very much like our own. Earl Wilson, who later passed away of a heart attack at the tragic age of 55, had in truth and in spirit, become my second personal mentor. The second elder in whom I would be able to listen to or confide in without some sort of spiritual grudge match fostering my intelligence. Of course this is aside from what I would continue to scan heavily from books and other media accounts. My fifteen months at Lofton Creek were a gentle canvas of leisure, painted with a measuring schtick spoiled only by a natural intolerance to any perceived decline or stagnation. Was I not being groomed by the All-Purposeful Lord for great things, greater things than this? Like Elisha, I wanted more.

Soon enough though, an unchecked overwhelming sense of urgency pervaded my serenity. I spent afternoon and evening reading book after book checked out from the library in the town from which I had graduated highschool, six years earlier, the town where the landlord and his wife lived. The urgency of succeeding somewhere somehow sometime soon in a way that matched what I believed where my strong points, kept me at odds with the seclusion of my near perfect pastoral lifestyle. Regrettably, little has changed in that regard even now. Studies among the exegeses of Tolstoy, Schweitzer, Pascal, St. Augustine, Van Gogh, Cayce, Goethe, Tillich, Gibran, Pascal, Rousseau, Paine, Durant, and other biblical and ethical commentators filled my head with all too many strange transfixing questions and all too few answers, presaging an addiction to the printed word which still haunts me.

In short, I feel I am a healthy neurotic, now as I was as a child, a struggling, inept, argumentative teenager, a terrible twentysomething, and so now as a twisting thirtysomething, a solitary seeker of unbiased unprotracted truth and justice of what's happening, righteousness and compassion among those I intersect, guided not by my own sense of self-worth but by a hovering sense of duty, not quite positive everything I effect is going to put a smile on God’s face, but secure in the knowledge that without that healthy dose of doubt, purpose would then be defined as beginning and ending with myself, an absurdly brutal concept to which I’ve never long subscribed.
As a precocious child I devoured books with the vigor other kids ran through mud puddles and sticker bushes, and after surging past the glib yet stagnant years brought on by my earlier experience with a much more constrained thinking—thanks to that sorry excuse of a first marriage, but when I knew you for that year, I had already walked away from all that history, grown past the years of stain in a sense.

I'm not what one might call a naturally happy person, George; not terribly unhappy, but not particularly happy, not in the same way that I would describe you&$151;you George Rounthwaite—that wonderful impish but manly grin, a grin I could hear and could almost see over the telephone that morning you returned my call, a grin that is shaped by the ever resourceful spirit which lives within you. And yet in defense of my own robust spirit, I can never concede that I am unduly deprived of God’s intent in when weathering whatever shades of depression and simple joy I experience. I accept my local joys and those spells of dark seclusion which work to direct my life in ways most citizens, believers and pagan alike, in our culture find less than ambitious to say the least, and dare assert I, speak more to their own faulty judgment than to my own sense of frailty.

In short, I feel I am a healthy neurotic, now as I was as a child, a struggling, inept, argumentative teenager, a terrible twentysomething, and so now as a twisting thirtysomething, a solitary seeker of unbiased unprotracted truth and justice of what's happening, righteousness and compassion among those I intersect, guided not by my own sense of self-worth but by a hovering sense of duty, not quite positive everything I effect is going to put a smile on God’s face, but secure in the knowledge that without that healthy dose of doubt, purpose would then be defined as beginning and ending with myself, an absurdly brutal concept to which I’ve never long subscribed.

Why then all the straining psychobabble first before I begin detailing the struggles, the contours of my individual path? Because unappended details unfortunately are easily cut and quartered into categories of right and wrong out of context without supportive evidence. Because I have no wish to parade facts in front of someone who historically may not approve. And because I am neither here on this earth nor this page to shame anyone who is genuinely unprepared to understand the ways I feel called to manifest—that God in his own good sense may fulfill all the promises to those who have prayed for understanding and ultimate peace according to His previous messengers.

Giving way to nothingness, and following conscience, what could be more feckless and puerile for a "transit & hub" man walking away from a thriving dialed up world where the dollar is king...
Like a grapecoloured sky’s lively first pelt onto a rolling semi’s sideview mirror as load and driver barrel down the highway, I intend to reflect off these words into the surgical eye of the quick and the dead extending the free trade of ideas among other fine washables of life as keen as my powers allow. I am here to push further the envelope of comprehension, emphasize the degrees of perfection and sample the varieties of fruitbearing trees rooted in the heart of this age.

Selling the car was a major decision I actually made rather easily once I decided it was time, that my reasoning was solid. Mr. Rounthwaite, I loved that car, it was my pride. Therefore it had to go. Remember when we drove up to Tulsa from Houston to visit Oral Roberts University a few years earlier? Blew a flat as we were pulling into campus. Act of God, you said. I eventually left the serenity of Lofton Creek and Florida in September, 1980, for hurricane-tattered Corpus Christi to help my brother Clyde—at his request—bolster his fledgling roofing company, and return me to respectability from slacker life I suppose he and his wife might have discussed. My Blue Devil 305 ride rolled on tiger-grip Hercules Honcho tires, Gabriel shocks. Gabriel riser shocks to tell the truth. Took pride in it. Put 96K miles of artery on odometer in thirty-six months that I owned it. Had but five when I picked it off the lot.

It still frequently pops into my dreamlife now, some fourteen years after I sold it to a Jacksonville dealer for next to peanuts. In my dream it’s invariably parked in a public lot somewhere when I discover it, and usually in the perfect shiny blue state it was in when I sold it. But I do recall a recent dream when in route to nowhere in particular I casually stumble upon a burned out shell of blackened steel and crisp memories, and I knew it was my old car, ready for the resurrection and a pure nature. In this dreamlife, I always manage to steal it back successfully, without incident, and drive off into the sunset, so to speak, with no remorse, no concern for its current owner, simply radiant that my inner self has renewed the fecund energy this dazzling dance of road machine represents to my subconscious mind. Obviosuly this dreaming of one’s earliest prized and therefore most pleasureable possessions is not rare. Yet no other figurative symbols of my life except maybe the house I grew up in from the age of six to thirteen recur as often as does that car.

But I had become uncomfortable with financial success at the expense of others even to the point of resisting due payment for my own labors. My common refrain for a period was, “Just pay me what you think it is worth.” Obviously I was opening myself to exploitation, for I was never the slacker, but I could not excuse myself in this war of wages. Finally, after a decade of fighting a losing battle against my own nature to appease the temperament of business, its capitalistic pressures urging my own strong will to succeed (paralleling family and peer considerations)—only recently has it became crystal clear to me that I simply have not been called to embrace the American business routine.
Abandoned to a state of self-denial and chicken farmer ethics however, I felt compelled to junk it off to a dealer as contraband, a shiny nuts and bolts conspiracy illuminating my spiritual depravity, just as I had given away most of my household possessions except for my books and albums, including my finer threads and shoes, when I had left Houston. Giving way to nothingness, and following conscience, what could be more feckless and puerile for a "transit & hub" man walking away from a thriving dialed up world where the dollar is king...

Turning away desirable girlfriends, worldly possessions, and normal occupational ambitions came unnaturally easy to me, but in the spirit of diminishing returns, I carefully worked to steer as best I could from perverting the paradox of faith along the lines of what one might call humble arrogance back over to its converse form—arrogant humility—a decidedly common open trench planted with razorsharpened spikes and mirrors many pretenders seem incapable of dodging in their eagerness to appear to self and others as profiling God’s Own Image of Himself. And so Corpus Christi on the bay would become the next corporeal stage upon which my lifelong collusion with the spirit of man versus beast would manifest its theatre deep into my being.

Fifteen months as a hermit in the backwoods of my beginnings had taken their toll. I was no longer fit to be a businessman. Lasting only four months with my brother, I finally quit his company because of what I considered unsportsmanlike price-gouging practices. Although his rates were very competitive, it just seemed to me that hard times justified hard times for all, not accelerated pricing schedules when business was booming due to a recent storm. We parted friends and have become even closer as the years tear back the youthful packaging to reveal two pensive beings bartering the spectrum of ideas with earnest achievement at opposite poles of brotherly nature. But I had become uncomfortable with financial success at the expense of others even to the point of resisting due payment for my own labors. My common refrain for a period was, “Just pay me what you think it is worth.” Obviously I was opening myself to exploitation, for I was never the slacker, but I could not excuse myself in this war of wages. Finally, after a decade of fighting a losing battle against my own nature to appease the temperament of business, its capitalistic pressures urging my own strong will to succeed (paralleling family and peer considerations)—only recently has it became crystal clear to me that I simply have not been called to embrace the American business routine. That this anticommercial strain of business acumen is not by any means unique to religious zealots, I was aware, and careful to acknowledge prevalent economic bidding as worthy of men’s attention and God’s grace, quite unlike some in the political arena who have always seemed a bit revolting to me.

My brother has since returned to Atlanta, divorced, gone bankrupt, started another company, and remarried. His high profile roofing and remodeling company will gross over $3 million this year. Eighteen or so of his company’s advertising billboards grace Metro Atlanta’s highways. The high ornamental fabric of his lifestyle is in good taste and worthy of a poor man’s envy. My brother Clyde never graduated from junior high.

At sixteen he made a remarkable breakthrough in his life via a popular rehabilitation program, learning to read and speak there, although he still does not read much outside the Wall Street Journal and roofing or contractual specs. He does not truck with religion or the standardized version of God, although he is quite an introspective, let us say, spiritual man. After years of juvenile delinquency he saw the proverbial light, although it certainly took years for the complete transformation, in both the social grooming and personal hygienic senses, as well as for the full juices of his mental capacities to kick into overdrive.

The ensuing fact that he is quite the classical handsome man, while certainly adding to his notorious vanity, does most assuredly favor his strong faculty for self-confidence and secular direction as he makes his way among worldly affairs. Everyone pegged me for the smart brother, the rich brother, the glorious brother, of us six. Christ, said I, was not the one.

GT