Monday, December 17, 2018

Poetry from the Light
Dedicated to Our Trauma Volunteers 
Christmas 2018

Compiled and Formatted
by Anthony Servante


Our poetry selections for the 2018 Christmas column has been filled with poems by our volunteers from the Trauma & Therapy Updates 1-9 (I am entry number 6, the writer). My only instructions to our participants was to write what they felt this Christmas holiday. One entrant withdrew their poem at the last minute. Thank you to the other eight for braving this first time venture into sharing your thoughts in this strange format. I took the liberty to edit the poetry for grammar and spelling. Nothing more. I'd also like to thank Martin Ryan, the only non-trauma volunteer, to submit poetry.

I did not use the names of the participants (as I did with the Trauma Updates) and instead used their vocations (in some instances, their former vocations). I also added information about their trauma experience and applicable therapy very briefly.

Now, let's get to the poetry.

The Poetry and The Volunteers (Bless you all).*

1. Barista: Witness to bloody aftermath. Workaholic, fatigue. N/A


I went to England for my vacation.
Saved up from my vocation.
From LA to the UK
I wish it were one-way.

I visited museums and sites
By day and evening lights.
The winter there chilled my pores;
I warmly dressed to stay outdoors.

I flew back home for Christmas time,
I left behind the land sublime
But here with friends and family
I am again where I should be.

2. Instructor: Hands held in ice. Loss of faith, agoraphobia. N/A

Two-Sided Knife in the Road

You know when you forget your lunch 
inside the kitchen
and have to return to retrieve it, 
that you've entered another dimension.
You are no longer you

YOU didn't forget anything 
and are now in your car 
headed for the beach. 


if you hurry, you can still catch up to YOURself, 
pass him, and beat him to the beach.
Then he'll be fated to pick up 
where you left off - heading for work 
without the paper lunch 
that you forgot. 

But in all likelihood, he has foreseen your detour 
and consigned to kill you 
before you could get in your car, 
brown sack lunch on your lap.

It is not his first time, YOU know. 
YOU've detoured off YOUR own course
countless times before.
Sometimes you reach the fork in the road
and create new dimensions.

Other times you reach the knife
and kill yourself to unsplit the road
and unify the course
between back and forth
and back and forth
back and forth.


3. Driver: Trapped in darkness. Homeless, shoplifting. N/A

My Christmas Coat

My Christmas Coat has many pockets
inside and out;
some you can see,
some you must figure out.

The plainclothes Santa's helpers
scurry 'bout the store;
they look for forlorn faces
in the crowded store.

But they do not see me,
though my pockets are full;
for I am smiles and toothy,
a frantic shopping fool.

Or so they think--Santa's elves
as one eye feigns interest in toys
and one eye follows the forlorn;
yet I am hidden in happy joys.

My pockets fill with goodies
deprived of UPC surprise;
I rip the seal off in cheer,
and squish them into pies.

Then ho-ho-ho I go,
my pockets full of wares,
eager to find a Christmas home
in pawn shops here and there.

4. Public Service:  Deprived of sleep. Manic-depressive. Counseling

Christmas Comes at Night

It's Christmas Eve again
No family or friend
The night is dark and cold
The routine's getting old.
The check is late, you slob,
My ex yells at the mob
As I walk away;
How'd she find where I stay?
Who's watching the kids?
I hid here in the skids.
How'd she find me here?
Kneedeep in wine and beer.
But that was yesterday.
Christmas Eve today.
Free dinner served by stars.
Dollars handed from passing cars.
But now it's time to go inside
The hotel where I hide.
At midnight the lobby will be full
With Christmas songs and bull.
Sermons sweet as candy canes,
Eggnog spiced by purple veins.
Finger sandwiches and bible books
Wrapped with ribbons for us crooks.
By 12:15, it's back to our rooms;
The staff retrieve their mops and brooms.
From my window the sirens blare.
Into Black, Black Christmas I stare.

5. Private Work: Trapped with broken bones. Born Again Christian. Religious

I Saw the Light

I saw the Light inside the Dark
I felt the Lord inside the Dark
I smelled the pine behind the sulfur
I tasted Jesus's flesh in the wafer
I heard the song of Christmas born
Inside the Dark, Inside the Dark,
I sensed the Glory of the Light.

6. Writer: Witness to ??, Amnesia. Loner, anxiety. Psychiatric Care

Brothers, It is Time

My hands were held in fire
But I had FAITH and did not burn.
The flames bit my flesh
But I did not scream.
And round and round the horses rode
Against the wintry wind of hell;
Flames of ice, and icy fire,
A clime for undead celebration.
Demons press their faces to mine,
But I did not cry.
For I was being tested,
Was I. Fear was not my sibling there,
Nor Terror, Horror, or Death.
I had thee FAITH,
God Bless The Dammed,
Forgive the Fiends,
Melt the fire,
Light the ice.
I placed my hands into the white flames
And held them there myself.
Merry Christmas, Demons of Hell,
My Brothers, it is time to gather
Ourselves for Xmas Eve;
The horses ride round and round.

7. Maintenance: 80% loss of sight. Alcoholic, divorced. AA

Poem withdrawn by contributor. 

8. Public Service: Severe burns on arms. Schizophrenic onset. Outpatient care

Christmas Heals All

Christmas will heal all the scars on my arms
Christmas will cover all the cuts on my legs
Christmas will take me far, far away from the pain
Merry Christmas, for it heals all.

9. Law Enforcement: Unknown, due to Possible Clinical Denial. Counseling outpatient

The Spilled Milk Blues
I have seen better days than Christmas Day itself:
The wedding to my wife.
The birth of my son.
The grandkids first Xmas Morn.
The snow on the mountain tops.
The cops busting the drug dealer.
The kind man who took me home.
The stranger who returned my phone.
The second chance my ex gave to me.
The smile my son had when I came home.
The warm bed at the new hotel.
The Christmas card from my PO.
The first and last Christmas card from my son.
The new shoes the hotel clerk gave me.
The day the cops caught the robber.
The day I sobered up for the trial.
The day he got sent away.
The victim fund in time for Christmas.
The baseball glove I bought my son.
The letter saying, I'm grown up, Dad.
The day my son was all grown up.
The Christmas Day I remember all this.
The Christmas Day I remember every year.
I've seen better days.
And I'll see them some more.

10. Martin Ryan

Christmas Mourning

Around the house, crisp white snow lay
The place oddly silent for Christmas day
Tommy dared not speak nor cheer nor cry
For fear the old man might die
In the wreckage of his humble sleigh.

It had been Tommy’s cunning plan
To prove Santa was no ordinary man
He devised a trap from wires and cans of coke
His father thought it just a joke
But Tommy was a smart young man

Tommy’s family died in the blast
Now Santa is breathing his last
With Blood oozing from every pore
Santa’s dying on the kitchen floor
But Tommy tries to remain steadfast

He sniffs back a sob, leans in and with a tear
Asks ‘does this mean I get no presents this year?’

Started 12th November 2018
© Martin Ryan

Precious Christmas

Squeals of laughter ring through the classrooms
As the school bells rings its last.
Even teachers are caught up in the frivolity
As their merry charges rush on past.

Free at last they run for home
Not a care for the cold and the wet
‘See you after Christmas,’ they shout to their friends
‘Don’t forget to DM me what presents you get!’

Images of gifts wrapped in shiny paper
Beneath trees glistening with tinsel and lights
Games and food and fun all day fill their minds
And a chance to stay up late at nights.

Sammy avoided all the talk
Of gifts each more expensive than the next
And crowds of horrid relatives with sweets by the bucket-load
His Christmas would a little less – complex

He lives on the other side of town
Where no-one has cash to spare
Their only gifts, Pandora’s boxes
Filled with exhaustion and despair.

‘Happy Christmas, Sammy,’ Mrs Johnson calls
‘You too, Mrs Johnson,’ Sammy waves back with a wide grin
He wonders what her Christmas will be like
As he pulls his thin jacket tight to his chin

There is no tree in Sammy’s home this year,
But Sammy doesn’t care, too much
No bucket loads of sweets and fancy fare
Sammy has no time for such.

Yet he walks slowly home
With a smile on his lips as he feels the whisper soft kiss
of the first snowflake on his cheek
Sammy makes a Christmas wish.

He breathes deep the warm tang of smoke
from a log fire, carried on the still air
and wishes for warmth in his life
and a life without care.

Putting off going home,
Sammy knocks on the doors of all his neighbours
He often does, to ask if they have any jobs need doing
Tonight he just wishes them Christmas favours.

‘Is that you, Sammy love?’
His mother calls excitedly when he gets in
He follows her voice into the kitchen
Lit by the light of a single gas ring.

Smells of sweet deliciousness
Fill the air like never before
His mother, beaming, wraps him in a hug
As soon as he steps through the door

‘All this is for you,’ she points to the table
Laden with small treats and gifts crafted with care
And handmade thank you cards
From the neighbours he’s helped through the year

It is a meagre affair
By the standards of his friends
But the hand-made toys and clothes from wool scraps
Are more precious to Sammy than all their expensive odds and ends.

‘But they have no more than us,’ Sammy says
His mouth watering for the pudding on the hob
‘They can’t afford to give us all this,
We must give them back,’ his voice breaking on a sob.

‘Don’t you dare,’ his mother glares
‘All year you help them out with errands and chores
This is their way of thanking you
For raking leaves and painting doors.’

On Christmas morning
after sweeping snow from old folk’s drives
Sammy and his mother snuggled together
For one of the best Christmases of their lives.

20th November 2018
© Martin Ryan


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my readers. Please continue to support our trauma participants and all sufferers of trauma. And don't look at this as a negative experience. When a trauma victim opens his heart for all to see, it is always a time for joy and relief. 

See you all soon. 

*All the poetry was submitted in paragraph form or as notes. I was entrusted to format these notations into poetic form. I did not change any word or phrase. I merely gave the words poetic form (stanzas, breaks, rhymes where they fit, etc). Sometimes first time poets have the words in their heart, but need an assist to find the form to make the words shine. I hope I helped capture your thoughts and poetic musings. 
Anthony S. 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Greta Van Fleet 
Is Rock and Roll Making a Comeback?

An Appreciation & Review
Anthem Of The Peaceful Army (2018)
Anthony Servante
Assisted by Omar Jauregui

Greta Van Fleet, Front to Back 
Brothers Vocalist Josh Kiszka, Guitarist Jake Kiszka, 
Bassist Sam Kiszka, & Drummer Danny Wagner

Another Sold-Out Show for GVF


Since the 1950s, Rock and Roll has been on a roller coaster ride of survival to keep its legitimacy alive. From radio play, record sales, and concert attendance, the music born of Rhythm and Blues (R&B) has struggled to stay relevant while under fire from overprotective parents, civic leaders, and music industry executives who have tried to silence the rebellious songs or change them into family-friendly melodies. But Rock was born of rebellion and made its name indulging themes of sex, drugs, and youth. Rock and Roll itself is a euphemism for the motion of making love. 

Alan Freed, a radio disc jockey in 1951, is credited with coining the phrase "rock and roll" as a faster variation of R&B. Early on he plugged Black R&B artists like Little Richard and Chuck Berry as rock and rollers and White rockers Bill Haley and Elvis Presley soon joined the ranks of this new music trend. 

But as youngsters bought the records that they heard on the radio and danced to the music, attending radio sponsored concerts by these rock and roll bands and artists, there were those who fought to squelch the music and its alleged immoral and corrupt influences. 

And the fight began. Every decade or so, Rock and Roll in one form or another sparks a new rebellion for a new generation to dance to and claim as their own. Elvis Presley lays claim to the title King of Rock and Roll in the 1950s. The Beatles dominated the radio waves in the 1960s with the new British Pop Rock. Black Sabbath thundered into the radio stations with Heavy Metal music. Metallica took Metal one step further with Speed Metal in the 1980s. In the 1990s, Nirvana took the radio by storm with the birth of Grunge Rock.  

But the Nineties also saw Rap Music evolving into Hip Hop, a radio friendly sound that competed with Rock for the top spots on the spin list of hits and potential winners being pushed by the music industry for the top 40 on Billboard. Thus, in the 2000s, Snoop Dogg was vying with Indie Rockers like Linkin Park for record sales, radio play, and concert venues. 

For the first time in the history of Rock and Roll, Hip Hop was the new music of favor for the masses and the new music for the burgeoning millennium.  

But that's not the end of the story. The 2010s has introduced Quasi Rockers, Greta Van Fleet, and they just may be the kick in the ass that Rock and Roll needs right now to take back its place in the evolution of Rock music. 

The New Greta Van Fleet Recording (click here to purchase
the CD, MP3, or Vinyl).

Anthem Of The Peaceful Army (2018)

Greta Van Fleet is like a magic mirror. Every fan looks in it and sees something different. When you listen to the music of GVF, you hear the past and the present. Ask anyone who's heard the music of GVF, and they'll say that they hear R&B influences, the rebel Rock of the Rolling Stones or the Pop Rock of the Beatles; they'll insist that GVF sounds like Journey, Styx, or early FREE, the Paul Rogers band. They'll hear Alternative or Indie Rock, Grunge influences, or something altogether new. In either case, Rock and Roll has a second chance. After decades of placing second, GVF is leading the way for Rock to overtake Hip Hop on the charts, in the industry, and with fans. And to lay claim to the new Kings of Rock. If what you hear sounds familiar when you listen to Greta Van Fleet, it is because you're listening to the Future of Rock and Roll. 

As such, when music echoes Rock and Roll from its inception in the 1950s, through every decade to our own, we can safely call this new style Quasi Rock, for no two fans will hear it the same way upon multiple listenings. 

Let's take a look at some of the tracks on the new Greta Van Fleet recording to get an idea how their sound echoes so many other Rock and Roll legends. 

1. Age of Man The opening track of the album is a cross of melody and hard rock. It sets expectations high for the rest of the lp. It's reminiscent of New Wave fluff with Metal guitar work.

2. The Cold Wind combines elements of early Journey when Steve Perry took the progressive rock band into Top 40 Pop Rock with overtones of bluesy Rock from bands like Black Oak Arkansas. 

3. When the Curtain Falls suggests Rock that is too raw to be called new, but new enough to plant seeds for fresh directions for rock. It's like music we've heard before that opens the door for something better to come. 

4. Like Age of Man, Watching Over shows what this young band is capable of when they don't try so hard. When I hear this song, I think of GVF. without the allusions of other Rockers. It points to a direction the band can take with a new style of Rock all their own.

5. Lover, Leaver wants to be loud, but doesn't want to stray too far from their bread and butter delivery. This song needs to ratchet up the Metal and ease up on the pop rock. Almost there, but the band needs to get their hands dirty in the music by going all in with the source music. It's okay to step away from the traditional Rock sound and blow up the amps a bit. 

6. You're the One is GVF being cautious again. Let that guitar loose, cut the bass some room to boom, and give the drummer more to do than just follow the vocals. This is what the Greta Van Fleet sound can evolve into if they eliminate the safety net of traditional musings. 

7. The New Day echoes the Progessive stylings of bands like YES and ASIA, melody with majesty. One of my favorites. Again, the band can duplicate Rock leanings with style, but more GVF is needed here. It's okay for GVF to do Progressive, but don't let Progressive do GVF. 

8. Mountain of the Sun shows the band's strength when the music leads them, and not the other way around. Another song that is all GVF. More of this on the next LP would be nice.

9. Brave New World works because it is a good song. I can't imagine anyone but GVF doing this song. It captures that essence that the band needs to explore more. Highs and lows balance the diversity of sounds. All the instrumentals and vocals harmonize here beautifully in the tradition of early Uriah Heep. And I mean that as a compliment. 

10. Anthem relies on that overtly controlled sound they seem to like a lot. It's a song that requires some raunchy punch, lyrics, and guitar wails. This is Trans Siberian Orchestra turf. Christmas music with Rock aggression. It a commonality that GVF has with soft/hard Rockers like Savatage

All in all, Anthem Of The Peaceful Army reminds us that Rock and Roll is back to stay. It promises optimism for the future of Quasi Rock, the sound of nearly seventy years of R&B, Pop, Psychedelic, Hard, Heavy Metal, Progressive, Indie, and Alternative. But in between the songs, and in at least forty percent of the music, there is a NEW style of Rock music emerging. Is Rock and Roll making a comeback? If we don't get caught up in all the influences that shine in the sound, we just might get a front row seat to see the dawn of Rock Music's rebirth in Greta Van Fleet.

Monday, November 26, 2018

The DARTS (US) Interview: 
Grrrls Just Want to Have Fun 
Anthony Servante

"We don't want boys. We want batteries."
The Darts 


The easiest way for me to introduce The Darts would be to talk about the "Girl Bands" who've kicked ass in the field of Rock & Roll. If I were to do that, I suppose I'd start with FANNY whose cover of "Hey Bulldog" by the Beatles established the all-girl band as the first true competitive Rock & Rollers on stage and on the charts in a male-dominated Rock music age (1970s). GIRLSCHOOL combined Punk and Metal Rock long before any male band did so (1980s), [my old buddy Lemmy Kilmister (RIP) discovered the raw energy behind this female Rock band and introduced the Grrrls to MOTORHEAD audiences before world audiences met them]. FIFTH COLUMN and RIOT GRRRL brought Feminist Politics to their Punk Music after BIKINI KILL kicked off the Revolution of GRRRL bands, that is, Girl Bands that played Punk for girls, women, Gays, Lesbians, all feminist minded folk interested in the topic of Grrrls (as opposed the closed-minded Punk of the bigoted Boys who still expounded the virtues of excluding girls from all things Punk (from Zines to Rock). (1990s).  Sure, I could easily talk of this Feminist Punk Rock history, but the story would not end there.

Bikini Kill

Bikini Kill 

As these "Grrrl Bands" had to Rock a bit louder and angrier to be heard, reach beyond their audience of peers, and to spread their message to the Music Industry, the Chauvinistic Male Punk Bands, and the patronizing Punk fan base, Politics became the standard with Grrrl Rock. Meanwhile, Popular Girl-Bands like the GO GOs, the BANGLES, and the RUNAWAYS (among others) tried to veer away from this anger and played up their playfulness, sexiness, and seductive stage presence. While Punk girl bands battled for the independent Female Punk Rock scene, free of the Capitalistic Boys Only Clubs and Punk bands vying for Rock contracts, hit records, and sold-out concerts, Pop Girl Bands catered to the male audience with docile lyrics and boy-friendly tunes ("Girls just wanna have fun" or "Our Lips are Sealed", for instance). Whereas the GRRRL Punkers were spreading the word of Female Punk Revolution, the Pretty Pop girls sang about just wanting to have fun.

FIFTH COLUMN Documentary event

riot grrrl mini-zine

Now we have The DARTS (US). Combining the anger of the Punk Female Revolution and the sexiness of the Pop Girl Bands, this all-girl band plays aggressive Punk music with revolutionary lyrics but doesn't skimp on the "fun".

Left to right: Meliza Jackson (guitar), Christina Nunez (bass), Rikki Styxx (drums), 
front - Nicole Laurenne (vocals/organ).

"THE DARTS (US) are an all-grrrrl garage-psych-rock supergroup featuring Nicole Laurenne, Rikki Styxx, Christina Nunez, and Meliza Jackson. Soon after their October 2016 debut EP release, the singles “Running Through Your Lies” and “Revolution” enjoyed instant radio airplay, “Take What I Need” was selected by Sirius/XM’s Underground Garage channel as “The Coolest Song In The World” and author Stephen King personally tweeted about the band. By the end of 2016, The Darts had played their first shows around the Western US and had signed with London’s Dirty Water Records (Dirty Fences, MFC Chicken, King Salami, Archie and The Bunkers, Muck and The Mires). By 2017, the band had been featured on CBS (Dallas), performed on PBS (Houston), signed deals with licensing companies Media Horse (US) and Wipe Out Music (UK), toured Europe, and toured the US with Weird Omen (FR), The Jackets (CH) and Escobar (FR)." (

I caught the band at the Henry Fonda Theatre (The Music Box) on November 2nd, 2018, where they opened for The Damned. I asked them for an interview for my blog, and they gladly accepted.

Be sure to listen to the free music sampling* at the end of the interview and Top Ten playlist. One of my favorite songs from a long string of The DARTS rockers.


Anthony: How you gals get together and come up with the name of the band?

The Darts: The band was formed in 2016 when Christina and I, upon the ending of our previous band together, decided it was high time to form the all-girl garage rock band we had both dreamed of for years. We intended it as a side project and recruited our favorite musicians for it. We named the band after those little seams in women's blouses known as "darts". After recording demos of the first two original songs, we were all so thrilled with it that we wanted it to be more than a side project, and it took off especially when we signed with Dirty Water Records (London) a few months later. Everything you might want to know about us can be found at

Anthony: What are the musical influences of the band?

The Darts: The Trashwomen, The Stooges, Billy Childish, Ty Segall, The Damned, Dead Kennedys, The Gories, Nick Cave, Spray Tan, Night Beats, The Coathangers, LA Witch, King Khan and The Shrines.

Anthony: Ultimately, it's the music that will win the fans over to the band. That's what wowed me. Is the attire of the band something that will evolve?

The Darts: Thanks so much for saying that! The goal of the band was always to be ourselves and have a great time together, while making the kind of music we like to listen to ourselves. Initially we wanted our look to be something like 1960s secretaries who came home from work, took their dresses off, and jumped on stage in slips and bare feet. We did that for the first year and then wanted to change it up, so we went to pleather catsuits after that. Then recently we decided to incorporate black velvet into our stage outfits, with each of us just using that as a starting point and not matching. I kind of miss the matching to be honest, but it's also cool to see everyone's own take on the general concept evolving. Maybe pink hazmat suits and helmets are next, I don't know.

Anthony: Describe your musical style for us. It has a timeless feel to it. Hard to categorize.

The Darts: We call it garage-psych-punk-rock, but that's only because there really isn't a clear niche we find ourselves in. We literally don't think of a genre when we write the songs, we just use riffs and sounds that speak to us as listeners and see what happens. Let's just call it Darts Rock I guess.

Anthony: Where do you see your place in the history of "girl bands"? Running with it or running over the image?

The Darts: "Girl bands" really run the gamut throughout history - some rely on gimmicks and cuteness, some bring the musical power and toughness. My goal with this project is to prove to ourselves that we can be shamelessly female - meaning, yeah we care about sexiness and showmanship and accessibility - but we can also bring the rock. So that if you close your eyes, or you just have records, your ears are thrilled no matter what we are all like personally. I guess that means expanding the "girl band" image maybe.

Anthony: Tell us about the CD you now have available. What is the name of the CD? Where can my readers find and purchase it?

The Darts: We put out two EPs in our first few months together, which our label then combined into one album and re-released this past summer as The Darts LP. Our first full-length record, Me.Ow., came out this past spring. Then we put out a 7" with Alternative Tentacles Records this past summer with two singles on it. We also just recorded a Christmas cover for a compilation coming out this winter. Everything is available at and on all the usual online outlets - spotify, itunes, bandcamp, storenvy, amazon, you name it.

Anthony: Can you tell us about opening for The Damned? How that gig come about?

The Darts: Our drummer, Rikki Watson, got to know The Damned's tour manager over the years and he eventually asked to submit The Darts as an opener for their upcoming US tour. Apparently the members of The Damned actually sat down and watched videos and listened to our stuff and personally approved us for the tour. It was a dream tour, all over the US, with top-level professionalism everywhere, huge sold-out venues, and lots of support and inspiration for our band every single day. We are still reeling from it. Not to mention trying to put into practice all the sound and songwriting ideas that were sparked in all of us. The Damned are all consummate gentlemen and musicians, of the highest degree. It was an honor to be able to get to know them.

The Damned

Anthony: Who else have you opened for? Any plans to headline your own shows?

The Darts: We've opened for Black Lips, King Khan and The Shrines, Electric Six, Dead Kennedys, Turbonegro, The Woggles, Death Valley Girls, and had Jello Biafra sit in with us on stage. Most of that took place in Europe, where the band is starting to form a pretty strong following for a brand new group. We have toured the US and Europe as headliners at the club-show level, and would love to start expanding that into bigger venues, but honestly collaborating with better-known acts is still the best way to gain the exposure that we need in order to make that work. Everything in time.

Anthony: Are you working on any new music? Will you be exploring any new directions for your musical style and image?

The Darts: We have written and begun pre-production on our next full-length record, which will be recorded in December and released early next spring. We will definitely be exploring different tones particularly guitar tones, and rhythms on this record, and we are all thrilled with the more solid songwriting that is starting to happen. Everyone is more involved with the songwriting process than they were at the beginning, and that has been an absolutely huge evolution for us. It gets me out of my own head and really pushes the creative process.

Anthony: Lastly, can you give me a Top Ten List of songs, your own songs or other artists' songs, that best represent the band today? I'll try to find an accompanying YouTube video for each song for the readers to listen to.


Top Ten Songs that Influenced The DARTS:

1.Ty Segall  - "Girlfriend."

2.  The Trashwomen - "Batteries."

3.  Dead Kennedys - "Too Drunk to Fuck."

4.  Spray Tan - "Solo Slut."

5.  LA Witch - "Kill My Baby Tonight."

6.  The Stooges - "I Wanna Be Your Dog."

7.  Night Beats - "Dial 666."

8.  The Mystery Lights - "Follow Me Home."

9.  Billy Childish & Dan Melchior - "Bottom of the Sea."

10. The Greenhornes / Holly Golightl - "There is an End."


Thank you to The DARTS for appearing on the Servante of Darkness blog, sharing their insights, and delivering an incredibly diverse Ten Ten List of songs. And thank you readers for taking the time to meet our wonderfully Grrrlish Punkers. Remember, you don't have to be a Rocker to appreciate Women's contribution to all things Rock and Roll. What The DARTS bring to the PUNK ROCK sound is GOOD MUSIC. In these days of divisiveness, The DARTS bring two Punk factions together. That works for me.

*Here's a sample from the All-Grrrl Band. Enjoy.


Thursday, November 1, 2018

Views from a Troubled Mind 
Scene #11

Dream Loops & Fever Sleep

Eternal Dream Loop/Inhale

I hit the Trifecta of illness: The Flu, Food Poisoning, and Vertigo.

Late in the afternoon, I went in for my annual bloodwork, a basic line, tossing the hook into the pond to see if the doctor could catch something swimming in the red stream. I told the doctor that I was coming down with the flu and should I return for my bloodwork. He said, No. It's just a basic line. Catch and release, as they say in medical school. 

He wrapped a rubber hose around my upper arm after I had rested my forearm on the mat with the elbow bent, so he could easily find a vein. He told me to make a fist. I did. He patted my arm till he found a plump stream to dive into. He told me to take a deep breath. Before I did, I asked him to tell me when he would insert the needle. He agreed. I took a deep breath, and he poke the hypo into my vein. Dammit. My breath locked between in and out. I tensed. The injection hurt like hell. I told the doctor that I needed to catch my breath and relax. He said, Loosen your fist. The blood didn't flow.

So he wiggled the needle to increase the flow of blood. An electric shock shot up my arm from the site of the injection to my shoulder. I need to relax, I told him. He wiggled the needle again. Pure agony, and all my nerves were in on it. I forced myself to relax, to make the blood flow. He filled one vial, and inserted the next. It's slow, he said. 

I knew it as soon as he said it. He wiggled the needle again. I groaned, about to push him away and pull out the needle, but it was over. A ball of cotton on the bloody site and a big band-aid. 

I knew that I should have postponed the bloodwork till after I had gotten over my flu. This was a first--that wiggling of the needle to speed things along. He thought he was doing me a favor, speeding things up. 

And that's how the day started.

The evening was even worse. 

I ate the bad mushrooms at 9 p.m. I went to bed about 2 a.m. 

When I closed my eyes, I was driving. I wasn't asleep, but everything seemed normal. Then I opened my eyes and I was in bed. I assumed I was dreaming. I closed my eyes and I was back in the car driving. I decided to go to the beach. It was hot in the car. The heater was broken. The windows wouldn't roll down. I began to sweat profusely from head to toe. I opened my eyes. I checked the time. It was 3 a.m. I was still in the car. I was still in bed. I checked the cell phone clock. It was 3 a.m, same as the car clock. This was not the flu. It was the mushrooms. They were bad. 

I was in a fever dream loop. 

Dream loops and fever sleep combined. Otherwise known as Nightmare Eternity or Voodoo Slumber. Basically, a fever causes hallucinations while you're awake in bed. Add to that REM dream when you fall asleep. You have normal nightmares and waking hallucinations happening simultaneously. You are awake while you dream and asleep while you hallucinate. You're in a bubble of a new reality, with swatches of your five senses picking up your environment while your dreams try to work around these illusions. 
If I wanted to break the loop, I needed to throw up the bad food.

I stood up awkwardly; it triggered the vertigo. The room spun. The real room. My bedroom. The car was gone. I rushed to the toilet. My body wanted the bad food out. 

I stepped wrong and my back went out. Throwing up was more important than dealing with the agony in my lower back. Spinning room and painful back, I dragged myself to the toilet.

The vomit confirmed I was poisoned by the bad mushrooms. I expelled every bit of the badness. I cleaned up and returned to bed. 

I rested on my right side, and the room spun out of control. I turned on my left side. The spinning stopped. The sweating was gone. The queasiness under control. I closed my eyes without anxiety. 

I was back in the car. I was at the beach. It was very chilly. It was a starless night. There was a snack shack by the lifeguard station. It was covered with owls. No. Seagulls, I reasoned. Owls don't squawk. Wait. Seagulls caw. I should go home. It is cold. I am in bed. I grab the extra blanket from the foot of the bed and toss it over myself. I open my eyes. I am at the beach. But the sounds of parrots squawking filter into my dream from outside my bedroom window. I close my eyes and gauge where I am. I'm in bed. Two blankets now. I open my eyes. I am in the car. No. I close my eyes. It goes like this all night till noon when I wake up for real. 

I was caught in a fever dream loop, half hallucination, half dream. 

Sadly, I get up and grab a cup of coffee. I should sleep, but sleep now scares me. I should hydrate, I say to myself over and over with each cup of coffee. 

The day passes slowly. I am sleepy and wired with caffeine. I dread the coming night, so early it comes in October. The feral parrots are squawking in the back yard again. Tonight, they'll be seagulls and owls again. 

I pour another cup of coffee.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Views from a Troubled Mind 
Scene #10

The Pumpkin Patch/Petting Zoo
in Happier Days

The storm front that brought the San Gabriel Valley three days of thunder, lightning, and torrential rains is still trying to push in a new front from the Pacific Ocean on the west coast, but the Santa Ana Winds (aka The Devil Winds) that are blowing in from the desert from the east are clashing with the cooler winds from the sea and creating a monstrous wind storm between the desert and ocean gusts. 

At about 5:30 a.m., October 15th, 2018, this battle between the two wind fronts pounding on the house, ripping down the awnings, tearing up the roof tiles, and tossing the half-full recycle bin and the full trash container and scattering plastic bottles, plastic bags, and aluminum cans across the driveway, into the front yard, and unto the street in front of our house

Wind uproots a tree,
splitting the sidewalk apart.

When I finally got up (yes, I did manage to sleep through much of the noise), I expected to find more damage to the house, the neighborhood, and the community. Mostly, however, there was a hell-load of trash, leaves, broken branches, and general debris covering the streets and lawns of every home and avenue. As I walked by the neighbor, who also is a gardener, he told me in Spanish that this mess meant lots of work for him. He was like a kid in a candy store sitting on his tool truck sizing up the piles of leaves that needed to be blown and the number of branches that needed to be bundled. I laughed, but he laughed louder.

The bus-stop was shut down going east because the sidewalk was folded in half. Meaning: half of the sidewalk was lying in the street, preventing the bus from being able to stop there, and the other half was sticking straight up, blocking pedestrians from using the sidewalk. I crossed the street to catch the other bus (both buses end up at the Target department store).

The skeletal structure of the tents
is first to be rebuilt.

Then I saw something that shocked me. The Pumpkin Patch/Petting Zoo was destroyed. The fences were yanked up and away by the winds, the circus tents were ripped apart (pieces of red and white tent strips were everywhere), and most incredibly, the Zoo animals were dead. No one bothered to cover them up. The workers were more concerned with rebuilding the framework to lay the new tents over. Police were there, helping the workers to move the heavy tent poles, city workers were there, shoveling the broken pumpkins, but no one was there for the animals. 

I wasn't just thinking of the unhealthy state of these dead animals. No, this was a major street where children walk home from school. But no one seemed concerned. 

As I stood there watching the men work, while I waited for my bus, I heard what it was that concerned the workers. No, not getting the tent up as quickly as possible, not replacing the broken pumpkins with new ones, and not replacing the dead petting animals. 

What concerned them was why they were rebuilding the damn Pumpkin Patch. They're coming back, they kept saying. And the supervisor said that the winds had died down. Fuck the winds. They're coming back. Look at the animals. The wind didn't kill them. That's why we can't move them. The cops want to examine them. 

The new sign is put up two days 
after the destruction.

The supervisor glanced at the police helping with the tent poles. Not our department, said one of the cops. The supervisor told them to finish their work and he'll find other workers to take their place. No one was forcing them to work there. He'll cut them a check at the end of the day. 

The workers nodded as they went about their work. I focused my phone camera on the dead animals and zoomed in. I couldn't even recognize what animals they were. No animal was complete. Pieces of the animals were placed together as close as possible to resemble what the animal used to look like. I didn't take pictures. What for? Just like in every horror movie I've ever seen. What killed those animals? Why, the winds, of course. The Devil Winds. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Update 9

Trauma & Therapy

Religious Therapy
Death: Doorway or Dust?


We now turn to Religion, our next avenue of therapy for sufferers of trauma. Whether we witnessed a death or fought past cancer, we need to lean on some form of physical and mental support to get beyond the shock. God provides both forms of support. Most religions provide physical support in churches, halls, temples, shrines, and other places of worship where people can meet and socialize. These congregations allow the trauma patient a means to find friends and neighbors with stable lives, lifestyles, and habits, all forms of predictability and reliability for the cautious and chaotic mind of the patient. In addition to gathering with "safe" folks, the patient can also establish a weekly schedule that provides spiritual routine: Nightly prayer, biblical readings, Sunday mass, or Bible classes. A predictable routine helps the patient feel in control of his social surroundings. However, it is in the teachings of the religion itself where the patient may discover reminders of his trauma. For with every heaven we find in religion, we must also face its hell.

Here we wish to address this dichotomy of the good and the bad that the therapy of religion holds for the patients of trauma. Since every religion is so different, we cannot hope to discuss them all; so, I've decided to cover the most common ones referenced by trauma sufferers who have shared their stories with us. As usual, we will try to avoid using real names; however, we will use real religions and will do our best to present the best view of their belief systems as they apply to the patient. While, at the same time, it is not our intent to sugarcoat the punishment or "evil" inherent to these beliefs.
Anthony Servante


Anthony Servante Essay
Death: Doorway or Dust?

Just as we find therapeutic value in Dream Analysis, we cannot ignore its obverse and must contend with nightmares. In Paint Therapy, there is release in drawing out the demons found in nightmares, but there is stress, too, in facing these creatures on the canvas. We must remember that what was painted on paper lives in the patients' mind. Psychological Defense Mechanisms can only go so far to protect the patients from their own memories and images borne of their trauma. The therapy provides additional help for the patients to confront their painful pasts. 

So, too, in religion can we find help in a system of worship that promises an afterlife, a world without trauma or its bodily suffering, but choose the wrong path and the same faith that can lead to heaven can also lead to an immortality of pain. The religious person is always mindful of his mortal life and living it with the promise of Heaven, Nirvana, or a productive Reincarnation. This promise, however, is a double-edged blade, for a sinful or bad life can lead to damnation or reincarnation as a lower form of life. 

Which brings us to our dichotomy:  Is Religion a doorway to heaven, hell, or reincarnation, or an illusory path leading to the graveyard and a destiny of dust?

Since this is the mental struggle the trauma patient must wrestle with in terms of doubt, belief, and faith, I thought it best to approach the subject based on the belief that death is a doorway. What is on the other side of that doorway depends on the religion and the belief of the patient as he is taught and guided by his place or person of worship. 

Let's take a look at the common beliefs on what awaits us when we die. 

The most common expectation is that when one dies, their spirit leaves the dead body, faces judgment at the Gates of Heaven, and either enters Heaven or sinks to Hell. Many variations of this belief have the spirit, or ghost, wandering the Earth unaware that they are dead or haunting their old neighborhood as revenge for some incomplete justice left unfinished. So, only by finding justice can the spirit move on to be judged at Heaven's Gate. But there are other beliefs. 

In one of my short stories called "The Cucuy" (The Ghost), a group of boys discuss how they were raised to believe in ghosts. Here is an excerpt from "The Cucuy", Tales of Horror & Heaven by Anthony Servante, where common beliefs in spirits vary:

"Ghosts," Andre explained, "are the spirits of people that die. It's like the soul leaving the body and floating around the earth until God takes it up to Heaven or sends it down to Hell with the Devil. They usually hang around their old neighborhoods and watch what their old friends and family are up to. If the ghost scares someone on purpose, then the Devil gets to have its soul, but if it does a good deed, then God takes him to Heaven." 

"You're drunk," I said sharply. 

"No way, man," Andre said defensively, "it's in the bible." 

"What bible you been reading?" spat Wilo. "But that's kinda right. A ghost is a dead person's soul, but it doesn't do good or bad deeds. Only an idiot would believe something like that. Ghosts can't tell the difference between good and bad. God decides that stuff. There is a place called Limbo, where the new souls hang out until they are called to Heaven or Hell. It's like a big waiting room. But Limbo is not on Earth, that’s for sure. The ghosts that are on Earth cannot find Limbo. They’re confused and think they’re still alive; they don’t know where to go, so they go around acting like they’re still alive. I think they’re like poltergeists or something like that.”

BB exploded in anger and stood to speak, “You guys are full of shit. “Ghosts aren’t anything but projections of ourselves, our memories, the residue of life-particles left in space over a period of time. It’s like when you have a clock on your dresser for a long time and one day someone moved it, but you see it for a moment like it’s still there. You see the residue of its former presence. The image is the ghost of the clock.”

“And you say I’m drunk,” Andre said, shaking his head.

BB continued, ignoring the sarcasm, “I once read that people who saw ghosts always said the same thing, that the ghost was only visible at the periphery of their eyes, but when you looked at it square on, it vanished. The same thing happens when people live in a house a real long time. They leave particles of themselves behind. The longer they lived there, the more particles that are left behind. It never leaves enough particles to be looked at straight on. It evaporates. That’s why you can only see it at the corners of your eyes. Years after the people move out of a house, the new tenants begin to see the old tenants walking around the house at the periphery. They’re washing dishes or watching TV or just sitting around the spot where they always sat. The old tenants aren’t dead. They just moved somewhere else. It’s their residue in the house. But if they died, it’s the same thing. It’s just residue. No God. No soul. No Heaven or Hell. Just people who left their image behind.”

After he finished speaking, BB looked at each of us, anxious for one of us to disagree with him. Cautiously, I spoke up, “I don’t believe in myths, whether it’s Odin, God, or Superman. When a person’s dead, that’s it; they’re dead. The mind and the brain are the same thing. They both die at the same time. It’s chemical death. The body and the spirit are the same thing. When life is over, they all rot equally. There are no ghosts of people, or of rocks, or of trees. Superstitious people made up the bogeyman, the cucuy, to scare kids who wouldn’t go to sleep. We’re not kids anymore. There is no cucuy.”

The Janis Joplin record had finished, and the phonograph needle slid across the record label screechingly. Rather than turn the record over and play the other side, BB turned off the player and returned to the conversation with a seriousness that I had never seen on his face before tonight. “Go on,” he told me.

“Alright,” I agreed. “No spirits like religions teach. There are just too many religious points of view of what ghosts are; you can’t just pick one and say that’s the right one. If you want to believe that we have a soul, like Wilo and Andre say, that’s cool, but I say we’re just live meat getting ready to be dead meat. The chemicals and electrical impulses stop churning. It’s over. You’re dead. You’re not handed a harp as your spirit leaves your corpse like in the cartoons. Maggot time, bro. Not even residue. Nothing.”

Wilo shook his head disapprovingly. “You’re going straight to Hell for talking like that.”
Andre nodded in agreement. They were both joking, of course, but they were taught by the priests to fear God more than love Him."

BB slammed his fist on the record player cabinet. The impact sent the phonograph needle arm skidding across "Summertime Blues". With a controlled anger in his voice, he said, "I know where there's a residue being, or a ghost, or a dead body, or whatever you want to believe. I dare all of you to go with me to see this thing. We go together. Then we'll know who's right." 

No one wanted to say no the the already angry BB. And so we went to find the cucuy.

Let's begin with a discussion of Doppelgangers. Although the word originates in Germany, its appearance dates back to ancient Egyptian times. As the word was first used, it referred to a "twin" for every person in the world--that each human on Earth had a double ("Doppel"). At the Crossroads of the World located at popular tourist spots in various countries (Hollywood has one on Sunset Boulevard), it is believed that if you stand at the crossroads long enough, you will meet your exact double. Whether that sounds like a good thing or whether the thought sends chills down your spine, we'll leave for you to consider. In this type of meeting, you'd encounter another person who looks just like you, thus you'd meet a normal, natural person. It was (and still is) a common belief that we do have a double in the world; it's not a scary thing.

It is the Supernatural Doppelganger that worries us. There is another belief that other dimensions exist alongside our own, and that sometimes these dimensions traverse the same time and space in what many Science Fiction fans have come to call doorways. On each side of the opening there exist exact duplicates of each dimension, although there may be some minor changes, like a person who looks into a mirror--the image in the glass is almost the same, only it's reversed; it's left is your right, and your right is its left. Even its history may have some alterations to the timeline; the double may have scars from an accident, and accident that you never had. Sometimes when these doors open for whatever reason (Atomic Bomb testing was a popular theory for such openings in the 1940-50s), your doppelganger may enter your dimension. When your double enters your world, only one of you can exist, and so it must kill you to take your place.

Whether the doppelganger is natural or supernatural, the trauma patient can sometimes believe that "something" is trying to take his place in this world or that that double has already taken their place, and that they are not themselves, that they have been taken over. The trauma can trigger this feeling of low self-esteem, that they are not worthy to occupy this body, this life, that a superior person should inhabit their life. When the patient turns to such a belief in dimensions or alternate worlds in an effort to find an escape, he sometimes assumes that it was the doppelganger who found "escape" by taking over his own life.

It is the work of the therapist to mesh such a belief in alternate doubles with a routine or mechanism to accept that the patient is unique and cannot or has not been replaced. Building his self-esteem is a good starting point to build a natural foundation over the supernatural groundwork of his belief.

In trauma therapy, the rules of natural and supernatural order are important. Just as much as our visits to our therapist clarify the rules for dealing with our new world view of our day to day life, so, too, do our visits to our religious guides help us to deal with the darker unseen views of our post-traumatic life. One shows us how to deal with the stress of the busy workplace, while the other explains the behaviors that can make nightmares, delusions, and perceived dangers and potential threats bearable if not tolerable.

When we choose the right therapy for our trauma, we can't ignore the medicinal value of religion as a viable alternative to traditional therapy. Sometimes, in faith, we can find the answers that will lead us to a cure for the pain our trauma inflicts on us daily. It may not be for everyone, but if your culture can help you deal with the pain, that's as good an answer as paint therapy, prescription drugs, or talking to a Shrink.

In many cases, we turn to the supernatural for comfort from traumatic memories and nightmares. It helps us put a face on that unknown dread that haunts our waking and sleeping moments. It is often much easier to turn to demons and evil spirits than it is to turn inward and face the core of our trauma, whether it involved death, violence, or sexual abuse. For in trauma, we often confront death; yet we live through the ordeal. However, the memory lingers, and the specter of dying remains and surfaces on stormy nights, walks home at night, or loud noises from neighbors or traffic. A sense of dread hangs in the air, palatable and claustrophobic. It is then that "death" seems close at hand, or in the mind of the trauma victim, seems to have returned.

Religions tend to capture this dread and make it part of its faith.

In the Thai Religion, we have the Nokkhaophika: Owl Ghost. It is bad luck to village, when it comes to town; we know it is near because birds act unnaturally. Prayer and incense burning are the best remedy to keep the potential for evil at bay. On a side note: I have found Thai Horror films most effective in capturing both the dread and hope of its religion. Although there are plenty of evil spirits abound, there are also plenty of religious practices for the layman (as well as easy access to priests) to deal with the bad side. There are good birds to help ward off the bad birds. Take, for instance, the Krasue: Head of a beautiful woman with her innards hanging from her neck. It accompanies the Nokkhaophika. Burn some incense to quell the Krasue and the Owl Ghost will lose its guide to find you.

In China, there is the Yan Gui. Yan means nightmare; Gui means ghost. Together, they refer to spirits venturing outside the Underground (Diyu or Hell) who traverse the land of the living on such days, for example, as The Hungry Ghost Festival (similar to Halloween or Day of the Day). As the holiday implies, simply feed the hungry ghost to keep it content and harmless. The trauma victim here has easy access to power over his own demons.

In Mexico, Aztec warriors and women who died during childbirth returned as spirit Hummingbirds, otherwise known as Cihuateteo: women spirit birds who spent five days on earth before being assigned a place in the afterlife. During this time, these angry ghosts stole children as replacements for the babies they lost.

Mayan people believed that every plant, mountain, sea and earth, were inhabited by spirits and that these spirits had to be appeased with sacrifices in order to avoid natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, famine, etc. These spirits were named for nature, and as such, natural herbs have replaced the need for human or animal sacrifice in modern times. When women lost a child in childbirth, they could turn to a White Witch (Herbologist) to cover her body with the proper medicine to allow the child to reach Heaven and not be taken by these female flying creatures. This belief in natural medicine helped relieve the trauma of loss and assist with dealing with returning to a normal life after the child has reached the afterlife.

In Japan, Reikons are souls which depart the body upon death. If the body receives a proper burial, or if the last emotion of the body before death was undramatic, the ghost will join its ancestors in the afterlife and act as protectors for the family. However, lack of a proper funeral or an unjust death created evil spirits (even if the victims were good people in life). Yurei are angry souls who were murdered or committed suicide in life. Even if they didn't meet such a terrible end, if their final thought before dying was evil or emotional, they will traverse the spiritual and earthly realms, being part of neither one nor the other realm. They can cause trouble for both good ghosts (reikons) and the living alike. It is up to the family to ensure that whatever injustice their dead family member suffered, that they would find a way to remedy it so their loved ones can reach a state where they can be reincarnated, for without reincarnation, the most evil ghosts provoke the most suffering and pain, especially on their own family and friends. Rarely do strangers haunt strangers. It is always loved ones who die badly and become bad spirits. For the Japanese, solving the mystery for these evil ghosts is the most difficult task. It's not about prayers or incense-burning here. If you believe in Buddhism, you face the biggest challenge as a trauma sufferer. Your friends and family in life will do all that is possible for you to live a happy life, lest you die unhappy and return to haunt them.

For Jehovah's Witnesses, the concept of eternal flesh is accepted. God will reanimate the dead, and the dead will be reborn whole to find Heaven on Earth. In this religion, they believe there is no mention of the word "soul" in the Bible, and, therefore, there are no ghosts. Just as God imbued the dust with his mighty breath and created a living being, the breath of God is the "soul" together with the dust. Together they live and there is life, for dust alone is not life, and the breath alone is not life. Hell, in this sense, is death without rebirth, rotting in the ground without hope of being reborn. Faith here, then, encompasses the belief in death as a doorway to Heaven on Earth. Even as you rot in the grave, when the time comes, God will reanimate all dead believers to inherit the Earth. No ghosts. No fiery hell. No cloud-laced heaven. All you need for immortality is in your hands now. The trauma victim is most empowered with life itself and death itself as tools for a happy afterlife.

These are but a few of the religions and their therapeutic means for a productive life for trauma sufferers. Not all these beliefs hold all the answers. Some are higher maintenance and may be more stressful, but even those that require more work may be just the ticket one needs to help one keep a productive routine going, maintain a stable social life, and focus one's attention on hope and happiness from day to day. 


Jaye Tomas Essay:

The Tradition of Ghosts in Literature and Cinema

Who reading this has not, at one time or another, thrown a sheet over their head and "played ghost"?
When you think of ghosts what do you first see in your minds eye? A shadowy or transparent figure? A chubby Casper? A protector or something crying for your blood?
Ghost touch every part of literature, movies, art. And are as diverse as snowflakes.

In the film Spirited Away, written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, animated by Studio Ghibli, ghosts or spirits are mostly unaware of the living. In fact it is the living Chihiro who starts to fade after being in the ghost land for too long. Some of the ghosts come for recreation and refreshment, spending most of their time in traditional bathhouses. Others, like No Face, are searching for something or someone to banish their loneliness.

In 'The Stand' by Stephen King, the character Nick comes back as a ghost to help Tom take care of the gravely ill Stu, telling him what kind of medication he needs to get and how to care for him. As good a friend in death as he was in life, Nick only turns away when Tom tells him how much he looks forward to seeing him again.

Some give no explanation as in the 'The Upper Berth' by F. Marion Crawford. The horrid and sea drenched ghost returns night after night and we are never told why. In 'The Haunting of Hill House' by Shirley Jackson we are left to wonder if Eleanor was being haunted by ghosts or was she the one doing the haunting.

Ghost stories have been told in every language and culture. We usually identify ghosts with dead people, especially ones who died with unfinished business. In Japan the ghosts are generally destructive and represent mortal dangers. Carbon monoxide poisoning has been implicated in ghost sightings as well as "mediums" who carry spurious messages from those passed over.
But why this interest in ghosts? Neil Gaiman explained in his TED address in 2014 that perhaps we enjoy those small, short burst of fear, all the more for knowing they will be brief, leaving us still here and safe.
It's possible that people take comfort in their dead loved ones still being present in the day to day. A way of avoiding the fear of our own mortality and taken as evidence as the survival of the soul.
It may be that it's easier (and more fun!) to blame a noisy ghost then get up on the roof and fix those banging tiles. And the paranormal tourism industries, of course, are happy to exploit this fascination. In some places residents pride themselves on their "haunted heritage"
Michael Shermer, author of 'The Believing Brain', argues that humans have a tendency to look at patterns and see them as deliberate.
iPhone users have seen a rise in people claiming to have spectral photos show up on their screens.

We are looking for them obviously. We want to see the ghost, even just for a moment. We are enjoying the delicious frisson of fear dancing along our spine. We do not really want to know that the banging is industrial, that the moaning in the attic is a hooting owl, that the occasional broken plate is not Great Aunt Mable's annoyance at her house being sold.
We want to see beyond, just for a moment, and try to understand what is hidden.

“Be hole, be dust, be dream, be wind/Be night, be dark, be wish, be mind,/Now slip, now slide, now move unseen,/Above, beneath, betwixt, between.”
Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”
Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House

“A house is never still in darkness to those who listen intently; there is a whispering in distant chambers, an unearthly hand presses the snib of the window, the latch rises. Ghosts were created when the first man woke in the night.” — J.M. Barrie


Rhys Hughes Essay(s)

The Futility of Not Believing in Ghosts
Rhys Hughes

I once had an Iranian girlfriend who told me a strange story about what happened to her father in their garden in a very desirable part of Tehran. He saw a face peeping at him from among the flowers, a strange yellow face much larger than that of a person. He wasn't sure if the face was itself a type of gigantic flower. Then it laughed at him silently and rolled its eyes and the father felt chills spread all over him. He retreated to the inside of the house and it was a long time before he ventured into that garden again. We had been talking about ghosts, so I asked my girlfriend if the peculiar face among the flowers might also be a ghost.
“There are no such things as ghosts!” Anahita said with great emphasis. Then in response to my puzzled frown she added, “There are only genies who pretend to be ghosts.” She meant djinn, who aren't at all the way we in the West imagine genies to be, but are a separate class of beings unrelated to angels or humans. They are faster and stronger than people and few of them are left now. Those that remain have been offered another chance at salvation. What the one in the Tehran garden wanted can't be ascertained. Maybe it just wanted to create some mischief. For Anahita it was very important to differentiate it from a ghost.
As a Muslim, it was impossible for Anahita to accept that ghosts exist. A ghost is the disembodied soul of a once living man or woman. But in Islam there is simply no room on the Earth for such spirits. You die and the Angel of Death come for your soul and takes it away and won't return it until the Day of Judgment. Therefore if someone sees a ghost, or if you see one yourself, it can't be a ghost but something else. It must be an entity that only seems to be a ghost. If it looks, walks and talks like a duck then it's a duck, but this rule doesn't apply to ghosts. How about the ghost of a duck? Let's not get too clever for our boots. Ghosts don't exist in Islam, or rather the way they are defined is different, and this difference is essential to enable encounters with them to be accommodated within the strictures of the religion. It is the same problem faced by atheists or anyone else who doesn't believe that the souls of human beings are able to survive death, or who don't believe that souls exist at all, that they are illogical and an error of language. Yet ghosts continue to be seen. So alternative explanations must be found as to what they are. Hallucinations, mirages, electromagnetism, autosuggestion or misinterpretation of something real.
For it is futile not to believe in ghosts. I don't believe in them and yet I once had a ghostly encounter anyway. I was in a hotel bar with some friends. We had attended the wedding of a student we had been to university with. This was in Solihull, a town just outside Birmingham. There were four of us and apart from the barman we were the only customers in the place. Suddenly a table in the middle of the room, at least three metres from where we were standing, flipped itself over so that its legs were pointing at the ceiling like those of a frozen dead horse. The barman remarked very casually, “The ghost is early tonight,” and we all just nodded as if this was perfectly fine, as if his explanation made utter sense. It didn't feel odd, neither the event itself nor the barman's observation. It just felt normal, small talk. Later when we left the hotel, the four of us stopped and looked at each other. “Did that really happen?” The incident was already acquiring a dreamy aspect, as if it was something remembered from childhood rather than a very recent event. And now the barman's words hit us with delayed force and became in hindsight as fantastical as one would have expected them to have been inside the hotel bar.
This remains my most profound ghostly encounter despite its simplicity and often I have discussed it with those who are interested in such things. I developed a theory that I always knew was contrived and whimsical but which I offered as a serious idea anyway, just to gauge the reactions of others who had endured similar cases. Perhaps there are other universes, an almost infinite number of them, all in parallel, with the most adjacent ones being most similar to ours, differing perhaps in only one detail or so. This is not an original concept by any means, but I wondered if somehow the bar of that hotel was a place where two almost identical universes overlapped. While we believed we were in a bar in Solihull in our familiar universe, we were actually in a bar in Solihull in the universe next door, a universe absolutely the same as ours with one difference, namely that ghosts existed there, were normal and nothing to elicit surprise, which is why we had accepted everything so calmly, almost disinterestedly. The moment we left the hotel we were back in our own universe, where ghosts don't exist, and that's why we were now surprised.
This nonsense resonated with people and the unsettling feeling that maybe it was true nonsense, the worst kind, began to grip me. I was intrigued to discover that many people who'd also had ghostly experiences felt the same way at the time, blasé, aloof, very accepting of the manifestation. They were calm too until after the incident was over. Only then did they question the veracity of the phenomenon and their reaction to it, as we had done that day in Solihull. Of course others offered jocular solutions to the occurrence. We had come from a wedding and were standing at a bar. Clearly we were drunk! But I don't drink alcohol. Ah, then we were exaggerating for effect? Not in this instance, no we weren't. Might I have dreamed the whole thing but thought it was real? Yes, that's plausible, but that doesn't change the fact that so many people I spoke to also had a feeling of 'normality' when a supernatural event happened to them even if the events weren't really supernatural.
It is futile not to believe in ghosts. The real question is to ask instead what exactly are they? If they are not the spirits of dead people, they are phenomena of psychology or physics that remain untested. They are a problem that hasn't been solved, yet the probability is that one day they will be understood. Then atheists will be able to rest more easily. They already force themselves to rest more easily by dismissing ghosts as an irrelevance in the modern world, but the solving of this problem scientifically will be a blessing because it will remove the coercion they apply to themselves. All of us are human beings, emotional beasts, including atheists, and when a ghost appears we jump in fright and our hair stands on end. Even if we don't believe in ghosts, our goose pimples do. Our rational minds don't really have sufficient strength to enable us to act in tandem with our sceptical claims.
What is true for atheists in this regard is equally true for those who subscribe to a religion that forbids the definition of ghosts as the souls of the dead, and in fact most of the world's major religions dislike this definition. Yet we remain enamoured of the floaty spirit that has been released from the ties of sinews and the tubes of bones and the garb of flesh and we wonder what it would be like to be a ghost ourselves, and we tell ourselves secretly that one day maybe we'll find out, because whatever our faith or lack of it there seems to be a residual belief, almost never talked about, more of an ambivalent hope than a certainty, that after death we get a chance to be ghosts at least for a while. That we don't immediately ascend to paradise or descend to perdition or have our identities snuffed out. That there is a pending period in which we get to have some fun, to enjoy ourselves, to blow around in the breeze, to pass through walls and spook the people we knew in our lifetimes.
The incident in Solihull was my most remarkable ghostly experience but not the only one. The others were all sensations rather than sights, a feeling that something wasn't right about the places I was in. Those places were always remote and always locations I encountered on hiking trips. Perhaps tiredness had something to do with my extra sensitivity or maybe it merely muddled my mind a little. Sometimes the unsettling experienced happened in the daytime and sometimes at night. Often I might be looking for a spot to camp and after finding one would settle down. Then minutes later, or an hour later, or many hours later, I would be compelled to pack up again and move on, in a state of near panic. Near the rather isolated Pwlldu Beach in Gower, South Wales, I heard what sounded like a bell tolling under the sea. I later learned that I was camping in a place called Grave's End where on November 26th in the year 1760 a ship named The Caesar was wrecked on the rocks with the loss of ninety pressganged men locked in the hold.
The corpses of those unfortunates were buried in a gully that was filled with soil and a ring of limestone rocks was placed on top to mark the site. Unwittingly this is where I had chosen to bivouac. I had to leave and blunder my way through a wood that was pitch dark. Anything was preferable to remaining in that unwelcoming spot. That wood also has a reputation for ghosts and my panic compelled me to keep going until I reached the next beach along, where I slept soundly and happily. It really does appear that some geographical locations come with a good feeling, some with a bad one. This is indisputable. But surely there is a host of rational explanations for why this should be so? I have felt a malevolent presence in a number of areas during these hiking trips and now I avoid those places at night. I regard myself as a sceptical man, yet my actions appear to indicate otherwise.
If we consider the matter closely, it will became plain that the malevolent quality of the atmosphere of those haunted places is an argument against the idea that ghosts are the spirits of dead people. In the unforgettable words of the most famous of all ghost story writers, M.R. James, ghosts are “the angry dead” and yet how can anger be associated with any entity that lacks a body? Anger is an emotion and absolutely requires a physicality in which to exist. It is not that the body is a vessel for anger but that anger itself is a function of a body. Without a heart to beat faster, without lungs to breathe deeper, without blood to increase its pressure, without the glands to secrete adrenalin, how is anger practical? It simply isn't. The most that a disembodied soul can feel in this regard is a cold and indistinct intellectual disdain. There are no anger opportunities for the souls of dead people. And is true malevolence possible without the input of at least some anger? No, alas. It is equally futile to doubt the existence of ghosts and to believe we will become one.


Three Ghosts in a Boat
Rhys Hughes

A friend was talking about ghost stories and why the Victorians were so good at them. It occurred to me that whether or not they were good at them back then is irrelevant, because they are certainly good at them now. Every story of any kind told by any Victorian has become a ghost story because all Victorians are dead.
Even a light comedy such as Three Men in a Boat is a ghost story in the present age because when we read it we are reading the words of a dead man. It may well have been a story told by a living man once, but now it’s a dead man’s story. A ghost story. In other words the content of the story might not be a ghost story, but the form of it is.
And yet we laugh when we read it. It appears that a story featuring ghosts written by a living person is spookier than a story featuring men written by a ghost. How strange!
If a dead man whispered words in your ear while you were lying in bed, you would be scared. But when you read a book in bed by an author who is no longer alive, you are reading the words of a dead man, and if the book is a comedy you aren’t scared. And yet in both instances a dead man is communicating with you.
In both instances the words of a dead man are going into your mind. It’s the same thing! So don’t laugh when reading Three Men in a Boat. Be scared instead! That book is a direct communication from a dead man to you! When we consider the matter objectively, Three Men in a Boat must be scary. Logic demands this.
So let’s take logic seriously and always be scared by it from now on. Because a dead man is communicating with us through it. That’s the very definition of a supernatural experience!
When funny incidents happen in the book, tremble with fright. That’s the correct reaction. Shiver with dread.
Because a GHOST is TELLING JOKES!!!!