Dec 28, 2014

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Part Seven: The Parallel University/Universe and The Making of Love Not War ( ignore the Cuban Missle Crisis entirely)

The Fall of 1962.  All is swell.  I am going ¨to be¨ a ¨I have no idea what¨ when I grow-up/finish college but whatever it is that I am going ¨to be¨ is fine with me (as long as it doesn't include shaping myself into some fake form of heterosexuality). There you have it, I took my stand.  I am a 19 year old Gay man. Vamos a ver.  I am not afraid.  I am living at Anna's non-boring boarding house and Ouzo works, a full-fledged-full-time Art Major at San Jose State College and I even have a part time job...BONUS, San Francisco is only 45 minutes away on the Bayshore Freeway and the little Crystal Bar is near my new job in downtown San Jose.

I began my part time job at famous/historic L. Hart and Son, Department Store, San Jose/Sunnyvale,  about the same time as the Cuban Missle Crisis.  Although Nina and Nikita Khrushchev had no real impact on my learning, living and earning ability I started feeling  that *adult things* are not always as they seem ¨to be¨ and could blow up around me.  Real life *things* can be nasty!  What the Hell? Best to have a drink, enjoy, imagine the really bad stuff will go away.  The Viet Nam war was raging on but I had ¨Student Deferment¨..ole´.  My parents had given me a brand new medium-blue Opel Kadett car, I loved it, zoom, zoom, zoom, open up your Golden Gate, San Francisco here I come! I had wonderful new friends too.

Albee! The Beatles are coming and/or Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair (or not)
Albee invented parallel universe/university fun.  It was his own very custom invention which included everyone.  Yes, everyone. AJB arrived as a transfer student from Southern California.  He was a Roman Catholic, a Republican, a Dodgers fan and he absolutely electrified any space and anyone around him with friendliness.  Al created non-stop/daily inventions on how to have fun. Money or not, ready or not, work/study or not. Al had a plan.  He was a whiz. Al had been a child actor (born in Hollywood) and had also dropped out of a mid-west RC Seminary where they told him he wasn't quite serious enough for a priestly¨calling¨ and got sent home. Everything was enjoyable with Albee. Every moment of life was an adventure for Albert and he loved everyone equally. He and I met clandestinely/accidentally at the Crystal Bar one night and went to an ¨after hours¨ Gay  party, a first for him but not for me, with Jerry (who had been a member of my Fraternity).  We all became close friends immediately.  Al, quite literally, had dozens of friends. I think, like me, everyone thought that Al was their very own best friend.  The band/gang played on and we became a very mixed bag of fellow partypeople (some of us  disappeared in the late hours and headed for San Francisco or the Crystal Cafe, others, the straight ones, just kept dancing the night away).  We were rarely missed and nobody asked anybody much about intimacies as we ALL were very busy ¨making love and not war.¨

to be continued

Dec 7, 2014

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Part Six: Σ 'αγαπώ με πάθος S 'agapó̱ me páthos - it's true!

While registering for classes, San Jose State College, Fall 1962, I was standing in a very long line (trying, of course, to get the very most entertaining/good/approachable professor I could for whatever class I really didn't want to take and electives I didn't want to elect). Suddenly I glanced behind me and there was a registration table almost empty!   What class could it be that nobody wanted?  I went to see.

The guardian angel of my young life had turned me around and put me in line for some kind of beginning art class. I signed immediately. I don't know why I took art, I never had before. However, the very first day of the¨art¨ class, I did. There SHE was in person...Brilliant Artist. The visiting (one year) Professor (full) of Art (sculpture especially) turned out to be from an important University in the mid-West.  She had panache.  She had cropped hair, she buzzed, hummed, darted and chatted on/on and off/off on any topic while riding on a breeze of whatever-inspiration-it-was-that-she-appreciated-at that very moment in time. She was exciting, she was Peter Pan and Coco Chanel and Betty Davis and she filled the room with electricity...she crackled, she laughed she set us free to discover nature and its creativity!  We did. I did. I got an A.  I changed my major immediately - Fine Art (Water Color emphasis later), thank you very much destiny. 

Meanwhile, I moved into another kind of Greek house after leaving my fraternity.  This one, a room and board one, owned by Ana Poulos who was probably in her early eighties already.  Smart. Funny. A card shark. Missed nothing. Ana and her older brother, Theo Jonni, had purchased a huge old wooden house near downtown San Jose (just a few blocks from campus).  They had previously owned an Italian Restaurant in the San Francisco East Bay.  Chef ¨Uncle Jonny¨ and sister/leader Ana decided, in retirement, to bring several young relatives, directly from Greece, over to study/work in the boarding house, and then sponsor them to become American Citizens.  There we were, three floors of delightfulness eating delicious served meals served in the dining room by very handsome Greeks, plus, doing line dances up and down the stairs, eating Mousakka and drinking 5 Star Mataxa and Ouzo. There were ten other ¨boarders¨ like me (and three real Greek cousins).  I stayed for two years at Ana's and Ana never cared where I went, who I went to San Francisco with or anything else personal about me...she named me ¨the little one¨ and knew I was ¨clever¨, disappeared a lot and probably drank too much...she liked me and I adored her and I think she always knew what was ¨up¨ with me.

Σ 'αγαπώ με πάθος

to be continued

Nov 18, 2014

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Part Five: Catch me if you can (I began running/drinking harder than was good for me)

Fight on for Victory --Fight Hard in Everything you do!

So there I was at the end of my first year at ¨Dear Old San Jose State¨ as a fraternity escapee extraordinaire (innocent yet guilty). I worked during that summer vacation of 1962 in San Jose/Santa Clara Valley (delivering flowers from the Town and  Country flower shop while the regular delivery guy had a long holiday).  I learned how to shift gears in a big white van and shift my eyes when dead people were displayed in coffins around me.

I moved out from my fraternity house arrest (btw, I just Googled Sigma Phi Epsilon/Epsilon Chapter/San Jose State and it no longer exists -- maybe they died from homophobia, R.I.P.) back to Lad Manor.  I even had the same apartment but roomed with only one roomie.  My roomate was Don, who was also one of my ¨Sig Ep¨ brothers, who had recently had his Sigma Phi Epsilon Golden Heart removed and survived the disgrace.  WE WERE FREE. My Bro and I spent the summer looking for heart transplants to fill our voids but mostly I delivered sprays and casket floral pieces through the backdoors of mortuaries by day and busily tried to kill myself  ¨death by drinks¨ at night...¨I Wanna Hold Your Hand¨ (if I am drunk) and ¨Never Would I Leave You¨ (I was gone by sunup) played on and on.  

We discovered a Gay bar in downtown San Jose...the Crystal. It had mainly mature customers but there were a few younger guys mixed in with a few, very/very fun, Lesbians too. It was fine and welcoming as we were still in training to become full-fledged Gay guys.  We had lots to discover. The flattery didn't hurt. The Bar was tucked away just behind the Cathedral and a block away from Hart's Department Store, main branch, Market and Santa Clara, where I would soon work part-time during my second year as a Spartan. Don and I were both very underage but the management of the Crystal Bar liked that (no worries of the police bothering them we were told - it was true).  Craig the Straight bartender kept those glasses filled, with or without payment...¨it's on the house!¨  Lucille, the cranky,  been-around-don´t-mess-with-me cocktail waitress was a smiles, a veteran beat-them-with-tray-bar fighter and more! Touchdown! 

We loved being 19 and we went to San Francisco (just up the Bayshore) whenever we could (often) to further advance our homosexual studies.

Hippies we were not (even though we had brunch every Sunday at the The Cask Bar/Restaurant on Haight Street).  No drugs for me (I figured I was ¨nuts¨ enough already).  Besides, I couldn't wait to get to the Jumping Frog Bar - North Beach around 3:30 P.M Sunday afternoons and I wanted to JUMP and not crawl into the place...and so *it* began.

to be continued

Nov 8, 2014

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Part Four: I escaped from the hetero-bro-ex-Gay rehabilitation program after spending one night under my fraternities version of house arrest!

During the Summer of 1961 I took Pacific Airlines to San Jose to arrange off-campus housing for my first semesterself at San Jose State College. I stayed overnight at the Hotel Saint Claire near the campus.  I had been accepted at several *good* schools BUT I wanted to be away from home, near San Francisco, and go to a ¨Party¨ School. My parents let me decide. 

I no longer wanted to be ¨nice.¨ In fact, I couldn't wait to turn the page on the ¨old¨ me whom I self-appraised as a little too normal/polite (if I was to live an abnormal ¨Gayway¨ of life in a under-cover way I needed a little tarnishing). I knew there was more duplicity coming my way. What's NEW? I was prepared since birth to give them or say to them what they wanted to see/hear! However, I didn't want to keep pretending to be pure and sweet because that was portraying someone I didn't want to be! 

I planned on going through Fraternity Rush and pledge a Fraternity.  Instant friends?

I needed to have a home in San Jose before I moved into the Fraternity House.  Living in the Fraternity House itself, still unknown, would happen in my second semester. I found approved Mens off-campus housing at a new apartment building named Lad Manor.  It was nice.  I was to have two other roomates, full kitchen, big living room, one bedroom, two bunk beds and I would not know my roomates before I moved in.  The apartment manager made the selections as to who would be living with who (if you didn't book with friends ahead of time).  Gasp!

All I knew was my soon to be roomates were Juniors and and they were transfering from St. Mary's in San Francisco.  I never imagined they would turn out to be the well-known, athletic, fun, and handsome super-hunks! Now what? WE would become good friends immediately.

My new roomies took me along and introduced me to their other ¨popular¨ friends (and the dozens of gorgeous women they knew).  I was happy and I was confused...what to do, what to do?  One of their friends I liked very much and he liked me too.  Sort of big-brothered me.  He was on the football team and a member of the All-Jock-All-The-Time Fraternity, Alpha Tau Omega. Clearly ATO was the most desireable fraternity on everyones Rush Party list. Everybody that is, except me.  I thought I would be trapped and/or outted and disgraced in such muscle bulging company, so,  as much as I was smitten with my new BIG BRO buddy, I (thought) needed to say no. They were great guys, the ATO's, I liked them the best.  They kept bidding me back.  I became quietly horrified. They bid me back right up to the end of Rush Week and tried to ¨pocket pledge¨ me too!  

I plotted to disappear into a very medium cool, huge membership, everyday-regular guy-kinda fraternity.  I did (they didn't try to pocket pledge me and I was insulted but joined anyway). I Pledged Sigma Phi Epsilon and got exactly what I wanted...anonymity (soon I discovered membership size couldn´t conceal pettiness, mediocrity and a large bunch of unattractive homophobes who lurked/lived there).  

Second semester college lesson number one for me was: Get the Hell away from these dudes. Amazingly quick, seven of us had already discovered one another at San Franciscos Gay bars (yes, we got in under age). Several ¨brothers¨ were discovered (not me) and confessed under star-chamber-like torture and then were asked to take a powder from the Fraternity. The paranoid witch-hunting-to-look-better when-serenading-sororities coven didn't want a scandal. They wanted ME, the untrapped/clean slater suspect Gay, to move into a new room, hopefully sanitized, and hang out with proven heterosexual brothers for the rest of eternity. Not for me, I escaped their ex-Gay rehab plot after spending one night under fraternity house arrest.

Later, when I passed any of them on campus they sniggered (I didn't blink).

When you got worries where do you go?
to be continued

Nov 1, 2014

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Part Three: Perfect attendance because Narbonne High School wasn't all about education!

I am quite certain you don't know this (unless you are one of the millions of children and young people who attended a school within the Los Angeles Unified School District) but, there is a special break in morning, from classes, of about 20 minutes for ¨nutrition.¨  When I was going to Narbonne High School (Class of Summer ´61) we loved you know why?  It wasn't very nutritious but they did sell FRESH cafeteria baked HUGE spiral frosted Cinnamon rolls and Grilled Cheese sandwiches and they were 10 cents each!  Milk 5 cents.  Yes they did and they couldn't have started my day any better even if they hadn't tried so hard to kill me/us with grease and sugar.  

I loved High School in Los Angeles and I had three years perfect attendance to prove it.  I also received the jeweled ¨N¨ (for most active male, Lynn Carmichael the most active female) at graduation. 

When I became 16 years old I applied for my Drivers Permit...I also took Drivers Education in High School (we all did) because car insurance prices were lower for those of us who were good citizens (little did they know)...about six months later I got my California Drivers License with a perfect 100% written and also a great Driving Test score. Life was good and my friend Ralph and I went off to find out who we really were...we had a strong suspicion but didn't know for sure.  

Top secret we were. 

Ralph was the very first fellow student I spoke with my first day of school in California the year before.  We were waiting in the lunch line, he ahead of me with a battery operated radio pressed to his ear listening to popular music.  I interrupted and said ¨what kind of radio is that¨ and Ralph turned around, looked down at me like the very rich kid that he was, and said ¨Philco¨...end of conversation for a year. 

Ralph, like some of the teenagers I became friends with at school, was from a very wealthy family.  Wealthy friends mostly lived inside the gates at Rolling Hills or in Palos Verdes Estates or Portugese Bend and had horses, elegant cars, extra large homes, yachts and the biggest swimming pools.  I liked that part.  Often I was included in non-stop social activities and I liked that part too.  Life was good.  I was busy at school, very busy and loved Journalism class and worked every year on the school newspaper.

Under Len´s Lid, was the name of the column I wrote as Feature Page Editor for the Narbonne High School student produced/journalism class newspaper (Industrial Arts print shop printed it): The Green and Gold  I was also the Advertising Manager and sold ADS like they had never been sold before (I pitched every one of the small local merchants I could find because I got a 10% Commission and it was more of a part time job)!

As Feature Page Editor (the class and job, along with Advertising Manager, I refused to give up because of the perks. I was Advertising Manager for life and they liked it, the money rolled in) I often received two¨pairs¨ of tickets for Previews and Priemers of NEW MOVIES in nearby Hollywood as Feature Editor. I always went and shared my tickets with various friends who had big ELEGANT cars (we only had Buicks at my house) so we would make grand entrances at The Egyptian, or Graumans, or even big/grand/forbidden Studio lots where they often showed the Previews and introduced us to the STARS!  Yep, there I was, doing my best to TWINKLE amongst the stars (and sometimes I tried to act like it was normal for me to walk down the Red Carpet too). 

As a High Schooler , active teenager and Student Director of Athletics,  I fell in love. I was afraid HE, my love, wouldn't like me anymore if he knew my secret. He was a champion athlete, a brilliant guy, handsome, popular and gifted in many ways including being friendly, happy, well adjusted and he enriched my life.  We were best friends and fellow Key Club/Kiwanis members (I think he got me in as he was a member first). He knew my secret. He demonstrated his fondness for me when we were alone or on a trip. I was afraid and didn't let Nature take its course...something I have regretted my whole life.

Heartbreak Hotel, Johnny Mathis, Rock Hudson, Doris Day, Tarzan, Crystal Beach, Avalon, Tiajuana/Caesar Salad, Dave of Redondo, UCLA/USC games, The Nominating Convention of John F. Kennedy, The Brown Derby/Club Sandwiches and other delicious activities followed (or was it simultaneously?) during my High School daze.

I loved Los Angeles

August of 1961:  I took the ¨Daylight Limited¨ to Northern California for Fraternity Rush Week/College in the San Francisco Bay area.

I never came back to live at at my parents home again

I never saw my best friend from high school again.  He went far away to become a father, a PHD and a success. Recently I learned that he died well over two decades ago. 

I have kept him close in my thoughts and prayers for over fifty years...I still feel his friendship deeply..that will not change.

to be continued

Oct 20, 2014

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Part Two: The one and only, ¨Hooray for Hollywood¨ (and other emotional outbursts)

My family moved to Los Angeles,  mid-December 1957, from the State of Washington.

I absolutely hated leaving the Pacific Northwest. My growing up life had been joyous in Washington  (and visits to Southern Idaho to Grandmas house in the Summertime).  What I mourned most (and I did for one year) and disliked leaving, was the romance I had with the outdoors and I missed my childhood friends too. I loved nature, mountains, fresh water lakes, armloads of Lilacs, apples picked from trees and the beautiful white almost-warm snow in the Wintertime to romp in. I had spent my lifetime running barefoot during shady Summers. Life was ideal and I knew it. I assumed nature was proof there was God and I still do (add a delightful friend or lots of them).  I also loved my accomplices in childhood and I wrote letters to them frantically posted with 3 cent stamps (so they wouldn't forget me).  They did.

Before, in Washington, our beautiful/cozy White Christmas´ were decorated with  EMERALD GREEN pine wreaths, trees and garlands. Christmas trims would soon be replaced with less-lush/spindly and heavily flocked expensive Christmas Trees (flocking came in colors if you wanted to match them to your house. Ug!) shipped in from Canada!   Bougenvillea was in bloom on those stark and Sunny Days of Southern California at Christmas'! Oy vey! ¨Ice plant¨ grew in every parkway and replaced ¨ice cycles¨! No way!  How I hated the bright Sun beating down on me/us at that first Christmastime as we raced to buy gifts for some of the many ¨Clark, Bramley, Cross, Jones, Taylor/etc¨ relatives who had become Californians before us!  I remember the jammed packed May Company, The Broadway and Buffum´s best. My Dad had a brand new, extra spiffy new job starting January 1958.  He had been promoted to Industrial Sales Engineer for all of Los Angeles up to Santa Barbra and had all the very biggest and high volume military and aircraft clients in his portfolio -- life was good as I pouted about readjusting and not finding ANY pleasure (or glee) under the Palm Trees...I hated Los Angeles!

My Mom and Dad made the transition as pleasant as they could.  They made great effort to find  a comfy/modernish stucco home (it needed work) and then proceeded to turn it into a charming place to live.  My parents were great that way with Mom redecorating (including doing all the painting with white fabrics wrapped around her head to protect her coiffed hair) and Dad doing the large backyard garden and front drive and lawns. Dad painted the stucco on the house medium PINK with WHITE trim.  They built a high redwood fence (there was a huge/acres open wild green area behind the property of our house.  We gleamed (we always had, albeit in WHITE with dark GREEN trim in our Northwest earlier life)!   Then, came the patio, the indoor/outdoor living the planting of Dichondra (and the everyday fight with Crab grass). WE were true Californias now. We went to the Philharmonic Auditorium downtown L.A. for Light Opera, visited Farmers Market to shop for giant Avocados, saw West Side Story at Grauman´s Chinese Theatre, ate/loved Mexican Food and leaned to Body Surf at Redondo Beach. My life was about to unfold before me in ways that made me extra glad to be alive...differently! 

Hooray for Hollywood!

Under Len´s Lid, was the name of the weekly column I wrote as Feature Page Editor for the Narbonne High School student produced/journalism class newspaper: The Green and Gold.

to be continued    

Oct 12, 2014

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Part One: Remembering far away spaces/places on a Sunday morning in Guatemala

The Fuego Volcano, Sacatepequez, Guatemala

October 12, 2014
Dentro de mi cabeza

Dreaming (day version) about more adventures?  My whole life has been jam-packed with adventure. Real ones, tiny *regular* diversions like climbing apple trees, swimming, fishing, building snowforts and regularly starting neighborhood dirt clod wars at construction sites. My well organized group of childhood friends also enjoyed performing in small, yet extravagantly attempted,  plays/dramas that I produced/directed (I insisted on controlling the *creative* even then) with neighborhood kids on our back carport stage.

A pretend Hollywood or way-off-Broadway?  

No script. Garage dressing room, old Halloween/whatever costumes (Moms make up - would she miss it?) and front center seating, Orchestra and Balcony on the grass (depending on the incline or use of garden furniture). Buttered Pop Corn and Lemonade available (at a price). Oh, the joy of big clear starrynight sky in the Summertime.  I can taste it right now. I can see the stars as I wondered about infinity.  Night has a tasty flavor  in Eastern Washington State where I grew up.  So does the freezing cold, delicious, water gulpped out of the garden hose.  I knew God was up there, high, high in the sky, smiling down on us...who wouldn't? I never thought of why not? Afterall, we were/are fascinating creations of God, every one of us unique! I knew that, I was told! Our show of shows traveled from house to house, night by night, with cardboard scenery, and a loyal cast of actors. We became a road troup immediately after the first nights performance! Premier! RAVE REVIEWS (what else were parents to say about such non-stop cleverness in the late 1940´s into early 50´s? )  Applause! Applause! Applause!

Off we went to the next welcoming backyard the next night (with a potential bigger audience) Bravo!  We had nothing to hit but the heights!  So, we hit ém! Thank you folks!

I love adventure, I love the not knowing, the wondering about what if, the making up something fascinating from nothing. The silliness. The blundering. The overdoing of it all!  Exaggeration could be my middle name! I have quite a vivid imagination and it often takes me where I have never been before.  I´m gifted with what seems to be an extra measure of mind inventiveness. I never ever minded being alone entertaining myself (still) and my Mom often said to me ¨How you DO go on, dear!¨ Yes, I confess, I do (I may be even worse now because I am living in a remote village in Guatemala speaking Spanish.  That Spanishspeaking every day slows my ¨how you do go on¨ way down.  That is, until I am around other English speakers...yak, yak, yak!

  Once upon a realtime, we, Parents/Lenny went to Seattle to visit my sister Marilynn at her sorority on Parents Weekend (University of Washington).  We stayed high-up in a very modern circular hotel by the name of the Edmond Meany. Wow! We had a suite and late at night, while my parents were sleeping in the bedroom I would stare for hours out the huge living room windows with the dazzling view of blinking, nightime Seattle.  What I thought about was people in love.  I wondered ¨how many people were making love in Seattle at that very moment? ¨  I loved the thought that there were tens of thousands of people enjoying romance. I love romance, that has never changed.

I also wondered if there were people like me making love outside the Edmond Meany Hotel...could it be there were other people like me? Blinking in the twinkling night, seeking bliss on a weekend night, Seattle, Washington, 1956.

There were! (I found out a few years later in Los Angeles)
to be continued

Sep 24, 2014

¿Cómo está usted? : The importance of being Leonardo/Leonard and deciding the way to see *things* on a rainy afternoon

Here we are.  How are you?

¿Cómo está usted?

It's a pounding rain kind of afternoon at the foot of the Fuego volcano, Sacatepequez, Guatemala.  I have been bordering on very depressed all morning.  Things! Things in the real world of making deals, observing legal forms, seeking professional  help on a couple of business issues. I continue to do my best to contribute with rigorous and honest participation at most levels of life.  Sometimes it seems rocky, makeshift or impossible. Am I trying too hard?  Preguntas.

How can it be that almost everywhere I look there is ¨difficult¨ behavior being revealed these past days. Even manipulative, sometimes tiresome and now and then occupied with those who are less than straight-forward with me?  Is it always about them or am I not paying close enough attention to reality and what's what and what's not what?  Frustrated, or am I  unwilling to allow the world around me as it REALLY is to sink in?

Perhaps my ´basic decency¨ and inner most ¨common sense¨ making mechanism is overreacting again?  Well, maybe, maybe yes and maybe no.  I get tired of trying to do the right thing and getting struck/stuck by/in some/any kind of silly far-too-flawed-human embroglio? Big or little, size doesn't seem to matter. It's obviously a challenge for me to ¨get over¨ my hope that some kind of personal/lofty perfection will be least not in/around the overly-hopefilled me.  So, acceptance seems to be the key when nonsense, mine and other peoples, seems overwhelming.  Keeping in mind that it's not always about me. It REALLY isn't, it helps mucho and gives me cause for calm.

Then there is the good side of things. (and I want more, more, more my addictive nature whispers to me)

Good side of things do happen regularly.  How can I doubt the integrity of nature taking it's course properly around me? Life without my scorn happens in  a good-way?  It does. Often. I love the life I have been given.  I love the life I live in Guatemala in my ¨maturing¨ years.  I love running next door for hot corn tortillas (tres tiempos) and I love meeting my neighbors and being addressed as Don Leonardo and being respected in everyday kinds of polite and tiny ways.  A grin, a nod, a cheerful ¨Good Afternoon¨ from a barefoot/bronze-golden  ¨ancient old man¨  or ¨anciano¨ who is probably the same age as me.

I belong to the world around me and that is a very BIG deal. I've evolved as fitting in did happen over time.  I am assimilated into the slow, the friendly, the genuine touch of basic humanity as it presents itself around walks up to me, it waits for the bus in front of my house, it laughs with me when we are caught in the pouring rain and it understands, most of all, it, life at the foot of the volcano that nobody is PERFECT.  People, humans, fruits and vegtables are a big combination of  fresh, ripe, maturing and rotting/rotten...nature does have levels and a timeline.  Nature has integrity as it reveals all.

Sometimes I forget that everything and everyone is part of the mix of life progression and SHOULD be  (I don't get to choose who is worthy and who is not so gifted)..

Reality just takes some getting used to.

The rain stopped.

Leonardo Ricardo
Leonard Clark Beardsley

Sep 11, 2014

I REFUSE TO DIE FROM THE OLD MAN GRUMPY DISEASE: Saying no, letting go, ignoring bigots, avoiding blowhards, distancing oneself from self-righteous ignoramouses, greedsters and thieves! Smile!

I woke up in the middle of the night.  I just didn't sorta drift in and out of a deep sleep...I almost lurched bolt upright.  Thankfully I was covered with five (out of six) dogs that were sleeping in my room...the fan was whirling, the window open and all was well.  I felt immediately happier, just the presence of my dog friends does that for me.  I love dogs and I love human beings too (mostly, but reserve right of refusal) but I get VERY tired of the nonsense I encounter from some walking around REAL people who seem to have lost all touch with  reality/sanity.  Reality and its companion of common sense.  Grumble, grumble. Grumbling is what older people do?  I don't want to end up with a terminal case of the Grumpy Disease! I think it is cureable, vamos a ver.

I think common sense must be a dying personal quality/trait or you get more or less of it as you get older.  It is either that or I have been running into much in the way of out-of-control sociopaths, cutestriving opportunists, dodge and bobbers plus a few greedsters, a handfull (or more) grown ups whose Mommies must have told them they could have whatever it is they wanted (instead of accepting a more humbling ¨no¨ means ¨no¨ or live with  ¨maybe¨). Or, maybe their Mommies slapped ém around too mucho...and always said NO...who knows, not me!  My Mommie was sweet, pretty and wholesome as emotionally wholesome people can be.   Ask anyone in my family, I lucked out!

Throwback Thursday, Me and my Mom!

Anyway, after a short English/Spanish conversation with my dogs I decided to ¨let go¨ with the annoyance I felt for selective-humanity.   I think I am fine as long as I keep to my longstanding rule to behave myself, keep an keen eye on the sometimes overly-clever-in-me, and accept the often screwy behavior of others (as long as it doesn't HARM others or me - no playing pretend that IT doesn't or won't if it does/will) wasn't a bad dream afterall. I just had a middle-of-the-night spiritualike wake up spot-check-call that almost immediately turned into gratitude just for ¨being¨ alive, now and before now, and of gladness for having such a full-run-full-up-mostly-good in my life.   You see, I am just now 71 years old (it came upon me suddenly).  I have had a colorful/action/creative-packed life and I come from a loving family (who ate Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding every Sunday afternoon - proof if ever there was!). I have been loved deeply by friends and lovers who are/were dear to me/forever and I am loved still (in spite of creeping grumpiness disease). I LOVE, I love, I love those around me both living and not anymore (friends far away and some whom I have never met but thanks to the internet know quite well).

Thanks be to God (who I visualize to be a powerful force way beyond infinity)

I am one very fortunate olderdude who is very blessed and I know it!

Now, it's time to go down to my studio and paint!

Have a great day (be nice, and I will try and be nice too),

Leonardo RIcardo
(at the foot of the volcan de Fuego, Guatemala)  

Sep 2, 2014

THE TWISTED DANCE OF THE SELF-DECEIVER (righteousness on the run)

*Things*  often are not what they seem to be!

Here I am watching another version of the old human ¨hustle¨  again!  I am simultaneously observing the age old game of trying to believe that words have virtue when spewed out by those who make a special point of explaining their less-than-first-class self-righteous  religiouslike intentions.  It's the handywork of the christianlike religious zealot when carving a place for their quackery in society.  Won't we just SEE their LIGHT? Oh, but if only they could convince me and all the others of the ¨good¨ they do (like it or not) doubt my lunch would digest and my faith in human nature would be restored again...if only they were capable of being honest with themselves and us!

I learned a very long time ago what ¨good character¨ represents, so, I most often represent it.  I know,  it would be so much better for the world if Leonardo and everyone else just had ¨good character¨ to begin with, but, alas, no soap.  I know it would be much easier for you all to get filled up with glee thinking that I am nicer than I really am, but I won't deceive either you or me...the REAL and responsible thing is what I must be...a good start. Agreed? 

As I cautiously continue being the REAL me (mopping up as I go along) I have the opportunity to notice the REAL in you too as the months pass trudging my personal path of destiny. 

Currently, I  have spent a year+ observing a mittfull of first class sociopathic = relgious pretenders. A wonderous cluster of selfdeceivers preaching sermons featuring overly twisted earbenders meant to impress me and others with their self-proclaimed ¨spiritual¨ worth/worthiness (or a least keep us in silent wonder/mouth-dropped-open awe). Makes me carsick even without a car...such a mess they make when they pontificate! Please open the window and let the words/odor of these do/nothing dead-beats deplete.  Whew, makes my bellyache and my head pound when petty/righteous feckless are hanging around playing their own PRAISE SONG.  And they do, and they are...why won't they go away and NEVER come back another day?  Perhaps they will, even with fairly good mileage they OUGHT be running out of GAS soon! Hot air escapes and bloated egos go boom.

I am sure you must know who they are and I bet you have met a dozen or so of religious-chizzlers too...all cotton mouthed, less than prestine and not even really clean intentioned (no matter how they fuss about self-honesty). They promise to pray for you and even me too which I am not sure is a good thing! 

I am tired of greedy-grabby and whole-self-centered back stabbing religi-con-artistas for Christ.  I know many are emotionally sick but my compassion is running on low. I know I have little patience for the shifty, the unwholesome, the careless bullshitter around me...I know it's time to stop playing catch and/or trying to follow the bounce in their curve balls...praise the Lord but FOR GOD SAKE please do something about  selfcentered opportunists and their dangerous stupidity that no longer can be disguised as good-intentions...self will running riot, untreated emotional/spiritual illness  is especially offensive when displayed by those who claim alcoholic recovery while acting out insanely.

I'll take it! Leonardo Ricardo

Aug 20, 2014

100+ YEAR MAYA TRADITION IN GUATEMALA: ¨Convite¨ costumed street dances illustrate the Maya, the Conquistador, Mexican Dances and mix in the contemporary world as it impacts the spiritual elements around us in Guatemala!

DANCING IN THE ALTIPLANO - K´iche´ Maya, 101 Anniversary in Santa Cruz, de Quiche last SUNDAY - Henry Leonardo Minas Veliz , my art assistant traveled there.

Every year in some of the towns in Guatemala, on regularly scheduled annual dates, we have ¨Convites¨ which are costumed street parades. These extravaganzas, and they really are, have groups who are invited to participate. These groups plan a year in advance their elaborate costumes and dancing messages. Originally over one hundred years ago (that we know) the ¨Convites¨ displayed the local cultural mix of Conquistadors and Indigenous interpretations of their mix into each phase of contemporary and local society, also there is a heritage of ¨Mexican Dancing¨ that was also ¨invited¨ to participate. The organizational approach of these ¨dance´societies¨ reflect the way they see themselves connecting with the outside's a great a colorfilled mix. 

Last weekend my art assistant Henry and Glenda his wife traveled to Santa Cruz de Quiche for the famous annual, this year celebrating 101 year tradition. Henry returned home with videos and many photographs of the spectacular event...I will share some here so you can SEE how we have become inspired to paint ¨Convite¨ paintings, murals and even ceramics...they have already become a fascinating new direction for us because, like the dance groups, the imagination level is's all about absorbing influence from NOW and centuries before NOW! 

I love the ¨Convites¨ and in our town of San Miguel Dueñas we will ¨ritual dances¨ after the procession of the VIrgin of the New Year, December 28th, mid-day, in San Miguel Dueñas...really fascinating and I think I will plan a lunch party around it and after the Virgin of the New Year passes my house we will then see the CONVITE FANTASTICO de San Miguel Dueñas, come visit ...vamos a ver, but for now, here is more of a glympse of what appeared before Henry, Glenda and their baby at San Cruz de Quiche last Sunday: 



Aug 13, 2014

GENUINE - THE REAL GUATEMALA: The lushness, the delightful truth, the reality of the people and the great energy of everyday life among the MAYA! Leonardo Ricardo (video)

Visit Guatemala v.3.0 (Updated version) from skycamguatemala on Vimeo.



Note: There are NO huge/wild gangs rushing around or legions of starving children in the streets/etc. What there REALLY IS here are a few fundraising crooks selling faux U.S. Green Cards and ¨safe passage¨ to the U.S.A.  

Most people, Guatemalans and guests (NGO's, the Peace Corps, Religious organizations) are adding positive acts building stronger communities with wholesome energy that simply add to the increased all-around everyday life of regular Guatemalan citizens.  There is a sincere and eager interest in cultivating improved education/health life in this beautiful and historically important part of the Western Hemisphere. 

Guatemala is a lovely place which is also named the ¨Land of Eternal Spring.¨

The very best thing you can do to help STOP illegal immigration is to help the economy here, visit here, add your expertise here, join in right here in my little town, San Miguel Dueñas, at the foot of Fuego Volcano (export flowers, vegetables and coffee farms) or ANYWHERE in Guatemala to educate and elevate..don't exploit or discriminate! One more suggestion is to evaluate the financial transparency of any volunteer group or NGO you  may wish to help...some are better than others in the trickledown department.

SAFE, SOUND, EAGER and HARDWORKING -- predawn into night, beat that!

Leonard Clark Beardsley. I am one of tens of thousands of U.S. citizens enjoying the great gift of living a full life and right NOW, especially grateful to be a guest in Guatemala.  Please come visit us, you'll love it.  As a longtime Guatemalan friend once said to me ¨Guatemala, you either ´get it´ or you don´t¨...I think I do and I think you will too.

Thanks to SkyCam, Guatemala
Thanks to Visit Guatemala
Thanks to The Maya culture
Thanks to The Land of Eternal Spring

Aug 4, 2014

INFINITY and LEONARDO RICARDO: ¨As a child my mind drifted far away into the vastness of not knowing¨

The way I see things makes the world be things

I feel drawn to write/blog a few of my recent thoughts/feeling.

I have always lived beyond the boundries of what I was expected to see and who I was expected to be.  As a child my mind drifted far away into the vastness of not knowing, into trying to make sense out of infinity.  Often I tell my Summer stories of sleeping in the outdoors and staring up at the stars...then beyond the stars.  I sometimes wondered how it could be that I didn't know where infinity would end?  Then, what space or place would come next?  Beyond the finish of infinity scared me a little.  It wasn't the not knowing that frightened me it was the stark understanding that I was so physically present when gazing into the BIG *it*  The BIGNESS and who, why. what, where and WHEN of it all!  Would I fall in or jump in? Would I be blindfolded and do a back flip into wherever there was?

Early in my childhood I realized I was *different* than others.  I knew I had longings of the larger than life variety and I knew I was a person  with different  longings than most of you-s.  What was the spell binding thing that took me far away? What was  the close-inside-of-me place lusting for space in my own safe backyard? Why did I have the built-in freedom to imagine such beautiful and colorful things that were both real and not-yet-seen in my early life?  Was I different, foggy or the same?  I now think it was the extra romancing of the possibilities of life that was perking inside of me.  My life and my eagerness to know about yours too.  Silently I decided what I must do, both with and without your approval.  Very early I discovered things were, in fact, not what they seemed to be (or ought be?) reality and imagination went wild in a good way as I played and romped and laughed and fished and planted and tasted every little attraction to be had around me.  I snuggled up to life.  As a child I was fearless. Life liked me back (mostly).  I always knew that in order to thrive I would need to operate both in and outside of the box, the boundries, the rules, the shame game the snear and those wavy ¨good¨ lines.   Infinity gave me permission to go as far as life would take me which meant way past the end of it in my minds eye.

Infinity has, it does, it will and I thank the God of my vivid understanding. I thank that same wonderdrenched God for letting me share life with all of you.  Some more than others, some closer up than others.  Now and before now it is you who still shine brightly for me dead or alive.  You are still there and here and I know who you are even from validate my innermost passion for life and you have not gone far away from my heart. I kiss you back. 

I love you

Leonard Clark Beardsley
Sacatepequez, Guatemala

Aug 1, 2014

CONCERNED ABOUT RETALIATION: Ugandan court invalidates anti-gay law, ¨Null and Void¨

¨The anti-gay measure was enacted on Feb. 24 by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who said he wanted to deter Western groups from promoting homosexuality among African children¨
KAMPALA, Uganda — A Ugandan court on Friday invalidated an anti-gay bill signed into law earlier this year, saying the measure is illegal because it was passed during a parliamentary session that lacked a quorum.
The panel of five judges on the East African country’s Constitutional Court said the speaker of parliament acted illegally when she allowed a vote on the measure despite at least three objections – including from the country’s prime minister – over a lack of a quorum when the bill was passed on Dec. 20.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga , Parliament of  Uganda
“The speaker was obliged to ensure that there was a quorum,” the court said in its ruling. “We come to the conclusion that she acted illegally.”
The ruling was made before a courtroom packed with Ugandans opposing or supporting the measure. Activists erupted in loud cheers after the court ruled the law is now “null and void.”
The anti-gay measure provided for jail terms of up to life for those convicted of engaging in gay sex. It also allowed lengthy jail terms for those convicted of the offenses of “attempted homosexuality” as well as “promotion of homosexuality.”
Frank Mugisha, a Ugandan gay leader, said the ruling Friday was a “step forward” for gay rights even though he was concerned about possible retaliation.
Ugandan lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi, an attorney for the activists, said the ruling “upholds the rule of law and constitutionalism in Uganda.”
Lawyers and activists challenged the anti-gay law after it was enacted in February on the grounds that it was illegally passed and that it violated certain rights guaranteed in Uganda’s constitution...please read it all:

Thanks to Nicholas Opiyo, Esquire/Uganda
Thanks to Stephen Kavuma, Judge/Uganda Constitutional Court
Thanks to Frank Mugisha, Ugandan gay leader
Thanks to Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi,, Esquire/Uganda
Anglican Archbishop  (emeritus) Henry Orombi of Uganda,


¨The religious leader called on Parliament to expedite the passing of the Anti-homosexuality Bill into law to combat same-sex marriages which threats the moral fabric of the Ugandan society...¨ HERE   (There already IS a NO SAME SEX MARRIAGE Law in Uganda)