Video: Swimming with wild dolphins

April 1st, 2014

Some people apparently think I’m “pro-captivity,” just because I published a video on YouTube about swimming with dolphins at the Dolphin Research Center in 2004, even though the video made it clear I feel quite equivocal about the place.  So in rebuttal, and in my own defense, here’s something you might find more appealing, an impressionistic video documenting my swim with wild dolphins in April, 2005: Swimming With Dolphins, Part 2: Bimini.

Why, you ask, did it take me 9 years to finally sit down and edit 90 minutes of footage down into a 10 minute film? Out of 7 days in Bimini, we only got to dive with the dolphins once.  Weather conditions hampered our dives on other days.  I had grandiose notions of making a documentary about why people want to swim with dolphins, so I shot a lot of footage of the other people in the group.  They were not always happy with me.  When I got home and saw what an ass I’d made of myself, I got discouraged and put the footage away.  I was not the great documentary filmmaker I thought I was.

Recently, I pulled the footage out to look at it again and see if my initial impression was justified.  Sadly, it was – but I realized nobody would care about the people on the trip; it was all about the dolphins, anyway!  So I decided to dispense with 90% of what I shot, and edit the remaining 10%, throwing away about 80% of that.

I will let the results speak for themselves. Coming next: How Bill Powell got Taiji wrong for Newsweek!

Michael Blum Show interview

March 20th, 2014

All told, I think this interview on The Michael Blum Show went rather well after we got past the “Flipper” theme song.  Michael and his co-host (whose name I never did catch) kept it light and upbeat.  Thanks!

 

“Witch Hazel”

March 5th, 2014

This is about a woman who came to stay with me for five days.  During that time she fell in love with me and confessed to me her deepest secrets, which I am not about to reveal here, but I did not fall in love with her.  I mean, I liked her, but there were several problems.

First, she was yet another witch, and as those of you who have read a few of these know, my two wives were witches.  They occupied a total of 18 years of my life, and although they were quite different people I have given up on witchcraft.  Like all other faiths it only offers false hope of change, because magic works no better than prayer or wishful thinking.  Second, she believed some really crazy stuff, even for a witch.  Like this: fluoride is added to the water supply not to make our teeth cavity resistant but to make us stupider and more easily controlled.  By who?  Why, the Big Bad Government, who apparently, through Republican and Democratic administrations alike, want us to be dumbed-down and docile.  Removing fluoride entirely from her life, she said, gave her telekinetic powers!  I am not making this up.

Third, there was her figure, which was rotund and pretty grossly overweight, for her height.  I never thought I’d fall for someone like that, but I did, which I think was an indication of just how desperate I was not only for sex but just for some affection, let alone love.  Fourth, there was the sex.  Anything seemed to set her off; she had an orgasm just from me playing with her nipples at one point.  But the sex for me sucked, I couldn’t climax.  What that means to me is, on some level we were not connecting; something wasn’t right.

Fifth, there was the intensity of her adulation.  After sleeping with me for three days she posted me as her “soulmate” on FB when I could never reciprocate those feelings.  I wanted to like this woman, I really did, crap, I wanted to love her but I just didn’t.  Finally, there was her cooking, which although delicious was all Southern-inspired, loaded with bacon grease and butter.  At one point, she used a whole stick of butter to fry a breast of chicken.  If I ate like that all the time, I’d weigh 300 lbs.  And as she said, “I’ve got to have my meat.”

When I realized I couldn’t feel the same way about her that she did about me, I grew depressed and wary.  The last thing I needed was a big scene.  Fortunately, it never came.  She was moving to Tennessee, and after five days it was all over.  I called her a few times but finally had to admit to myself that I was just fooling myself, and her.  So I called her up last night to try to tell her, as honestly but as gently as possible, that it was over, only to find she had already reached that conclusion herself – smart woman! – and left me a private message about it on FB.

Nevertheless, I feel kind of sad.

So goodbye, Witch Hazel (not her real name).  I wish you only well.  Sorry things didn’t work out, maybe better luck next time.  Maybe in Tennessee you’ll find somebody who can appreciate you more than I did.  I hope so.

“Very Late Cretaceous”

February 28th, 2014

Unknown

slide_235982_1167383_free“Wet Goddess” is selling at the phenomenal rate of one copy a day!

Meanwhile, here’s a poem, since I have nothing else to offer.

“Very Late Cretaceous”

God became light that day/as the rocks shrieked for pity./Then He struck fire from electricity/and made glass from mortal clay./When fire fell from the sky,/we made love, and watched our world die.

The sea boiled like soup/and birds mid-air caught flame;/this cosmic passion, we could not tame./A cloud, bigger than our grandest lies/spread silently above our impassioned cries.

You trembled beneath me/trapped by rapture, and by fear;/in one blinding moment, everything became clear/and we cried out, but could not flee./Then, knowing nothing would ever be the same,/like a rock I plunged into you, and we came.

Signal loss? What signal loss?

February 17th, 2014

I seem to be at a loss to explain or even comprehend this ongoing signal loss.  I keep beaming these words out into the consensus reality, but like a lonely bottlenose dolphin swimming over the Marianas Trench, not even my own echoes are reflected back to me.  My digitized human words are ultimately lost in the hiss of tape noise, the sizzle of heat in solid state recording chips, unanswered, unheard and maybe even unnoticed.

Is anybody actually reading what I write?  In spite of web crawlers and spiders slurping up potential readers, I wonder…

Hope

Hope, a dolphin at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Florida.

I had expected some kind of response over “Taiji: Soul Sickness,” but… nothing, except an indirectly related response from a dolphin researcher who found my FB critique of her efforts, during that period where I was over the edge of losing it, to be unwarranted and harsh… which it was… not to mention I was on the edge of outright advocating violence, and except for my own then-extant paranoia about coming out and saying it… you know what they say, those who show it don’t know it, and those who know it don’t fucking show it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not drifting in that direction again.  I’m just sort of wondering why nobody’s asked what the fuck I’m up to.

I should go out and dig in what used to be Cay’s garden outside, on the southwest side of the trailer.  She assures me the soil is still good there, and I would like to try to raise some decent tomatoes to my own taste, the ones from the store tasting like cardboard.  Besides, digging up and turning over clods is its own therapy.  I’ll let you know what the results are.

Yet another interview

February 12th, 2014

I don’t know about this interview I gave to Nancy Busher at the Sandman Book Store a month ago.  It seems to me like I strayed from talking about my novel to talking about the experiences it was based on, which is probably a mistake since it personalizes what ought to be a (seemingly) literary invention.

Then again, once people get the fact that the subtitle is a double-entendre, they catch on that the book is a fictionalized autobiography.  My segment starts at 13:05 and runs about one minute.

Please remember, while I was giving this interview I was on the cusp of an interior meltdown due to the dolphin killings on in Taiji, as described in the entry “Taiji: Soul Sickness.”  I’m surprised I wasn’t screaming and frothing at the mouth.

I’m where it’s at, baby!

February 8th, 2014

 

MirrorSelfieSM

Here is where I am at the moment, that being 3:06 a.m., Saturday, February 8, 2014 Anna Dominoes.  First off, I am down to my last bottle of Strongbow Cider from a six-pack I purchased yesterday or the day before – does it really matter?  The point I am trying to make is that I didn’t consume a six-pack of cider in one evening.  What do you take me for, a barbarian?

The immanent end of the cider is, however, largely buffered by the presence of some moderately good-to-decent weed I managed to acquire from a friend earlier this evening.  Silly dealer forgot I’d paid $20 over a week ago, so gave me a larger bag for waiting an extra day! Patience worked to my advantage! :)

I just got accused of being “Pro Cap” (sic) on Facebook because I made a rather weird video about how a visit to the Dolphin Research Center on Grassy Key back in 2005 affected me.   You can see it here.  The return visit affected me strangely because I’d been there in 1971, when it was run by a fisherman named Milton Santini who specialized in catching and training bottlenose dolphins and selling them to oceanariums in Florida and around the country.  Even John C. Lilly got some of his dolphins from Santini.

For a lightly fictionalized account of my experiences at the old Santini’s “Dolphin University,” you can read some outtake chapters from my novel Wet Goddess: Recollections of a Dolphin Lover

Scroll until you are about halfway down the page. Look for a break that says “The Unpleasantness At Rappaccini’s,” that’s where it starts.  If you read the earlier material about psychotic, telepathic killer whales, it’s set in the Fabulous Aqua-Marina in Miami, Fla. You figure it out.

I have one friend in Arizona who stoutly maintains with no sense of irony whatsoever that he is visited from time to time by the departed spirit of a killer whale he befriended years ago at Sea World.  He prods me to get back “in contact” with the dear departed spirit of my dolphin lover.  I refrain, because there is no reference point in the real world, because I refuse to become a medium, because no one has been able to explain the ecology or biology of the Netherworld satisfactorily to me!

Another correspondent in Russia rails against me from time to time when I express the slightest reservations about his absolutist anti-captivity policy.  Meanwhile, a famous dolphin scientist and outspoken anti-cap spokesperson dropped me after I accused her of being “ineffectual” in stopping the dolphin hunts and suggested that violence ought to be met with violence (see Soul Sickness: Taiji, below).  Had I known that her former partner in a series of critical, well-done self-recognition mirror studies worked at the Baltimore Aquarium, I might actually have been persuaded to go in there if I could have established in advance that she worked there, but I failed to do so.

Would that indulgence, to meet and interview a respected scientist, stain me irretrievably in somone’s eyes?  Would I have ever met Dolly if it had not been for the circumstances of her captivity, albeit with regular access to freedom?

Meanwhile, publication of my memoir Growing Up In The Orgone Box: Secrets Of A Reichian Childhood has been delayed until April at earliest due to the restraints of my financial circumstances.

Stay tuned… things are going to get interesting.

Sister states no more!

February 1st, 2014

I’ve created a petition asking Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, and Brad Piepenbrink, director of the state’s “Sister City/Sister State” program, to drop our sister state relationship with Wakayama Prefecture in Japan, where the town of Taiji is located.  This seems like the most effective, constructive and productive way I can think of to send a message that massacring dolphins, and selling their young ones into lives of slavery, is unacceptable and must cease.

It doesn’t matter if you live in Florida or not, as this is an international petition.  If you agree, please sign it AND SHARE AS WIDELY AS POSSIBLE!  It’s been up for about 18 hours as I write this and only has 33 signers.  I sent it out to far more people than that, virtually everyone on my FaceBook friends list, so I’m wondering what’s going on.  I also alerted the local press and TV stations, but no results.  It certainly seemed like a good alternative to my previous plans, but I’m wondering now how many people actually read this blog.  If you do, would you please leave a comment or something so I know?  I’m beginning to feel like a Biblical prophet, a lone voice crying in the wilderness. Thanks.

Regarding Lolita, a.k.a. Tokitae

January 28th, 2014

This is my submission to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is accepting comments as to why Lolita, the Miami Seaquarium’s lonely resident killer whale, should be included as a member of the Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) population, an endangered species.  A finding in her favor would mean, as I understand it, that Lolita would be freed from her captivity and rehabilitated in an open-water pen in her native habitat, within reach of her family.  Recent experiments showed that she still recognizes the vocalizations of her family.  My point is that it was an act of violence and exploitation to capture her in the first place, and returning her to a wild setting (if not actually setting her free) is the least we can do to mitigate those circumstances.  The period for submissions runs through March 28, at the address below.  If you have any concerns regarding the illegitimate taking of an endangered species and her confinement in unsuitable conditions, please write to NOAA and express your opinion in a dignified fashion.

http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0056

I think the proper question is not, “Why should Lolita (aka Tokitae) be included in the Southern Resident Killer Whale population segment,” but why was she captured in the first place, and placed in the world’s smallest orca tank, a tank which is unacceptable by current standards?  The secondary answer is “entertainment,” with the primary answer being “making money for her exhibitors,” the Miami Seaquarium.  The profit motive has never been an acceptable excuse for exploiting an endangered species.  She was captured in 1970 using brutal and cruel methods that are no longer allowed in the U.S., and at the time of her capture proper research to establish orca populations and “maximum sustainable yield” for live captures had not been done.  Science has since shown that her native population is endangered due to low replacement (birth) rates.  Further study of orca societies by Drs. Ken Balcomb, Naomi Rose and others has shown their close-knit familial structure.  My conclusion is, that if current knowledge had been available at the time Lolita was captured, no permit would have been issued for a capture, and her capture would not have occurred.  Lolita is therefore in the position of someone who has been abducted from her family and forced to perform unnatural behaviors for the profit of others.  When this happens to a human being, we call it “human trafficking” or slavery and we revile it and criminalize it.  Given what we now know about the intelligence, self-awareness and cognitive abilities of killer whales, we should apply a similar set of ethics to them, in the interests of fairness and consistency.  Lolita never should have been captured in the first place, therefore, to remediate this injustice and promote the continued survival of the SRKW population, she should be re-habilitated and if possible returned to that population.  Thank you for your consideration.

Soul Sickness: Taiji

January 22nd, 2014

There is an aching sickness in my soul no earthly medicine can cure.  I want to vomit, and I cannot sleep.  I lie awake at night, staring into the darkness, and the scenes of horror flash through my mind.  I can imagine I hear their voices, their screams, underwater… water turning crimson with their blood.  Above the water, I hear the callous laughter of the heartless murderers who call themselves fishermen.  They fished out the waters, and then when their catch dried up they chose to blame the dolphins, so they killed them, and then they found the dolphins were worth more than the fish themselves, so they stopped catching fish and started catching the dolphins instead.  And the ones they could not sell to the hundreds of dolphinariums springing up across Asia, they butchered and fed to the children of Japan as lunch meat, even though their flesh was poisoned with mercury and a toxic brew of chemicals dumped into the dolphins’ home by unregulated industries that didn’t give a damn.

They swim in the ocean, so they’re just fish, right?  And what do the murderers call this abomination?  “Tradition.”

These were the kind of thoughts that fueled what I now recognize was a nervous breakdown over the weekend.  When I saw that little albino dolphin the Taiji fishermen caught, the one Paul Watson has dubbed “Shuojo” (“Bambi” in Japanese) and everybody else is calling “Angel,” something inside me changed.  It didn’t feel like I “snapped,” but more like I had irretrievably bent under the influence of a thousand tiny blows.  My intense grief and sadness turned into a cold, murderous rage, and I began plotting serious violence at the Japanese Consulate in Miami.  Please understand that although I have the emotional stability of nitroglycerine, I do not consider myself a violent or dangerous man.  I do not own any firearms, but if I did – and I was planning to acquire them – I would have been headed for Miami.

In my mind, I became the hero of my own action movie.  I justified my blood-lust by telling myself I was single-handedly and unilaterally declaring war on the government of Japan, which issues the permits for the dolphin hunts.  I was figuring out how to overcome the security at the consulate, and I was ready to injure or kill anybody I had to to achieve my goal, which was killing Shinji Nagashima, the consul.  My reasoning for this was purely economic: I believed the Japanese would quit hunting dolphins only if the cost became too high.  Literally, I was planning to raise the cost of a dead dolphin to an unacceptable level on a pile of human bodies.

If I say that Japan is a racist and xenophobic culture, does that make me a racist, or am I just stating plain facts?  The Taiji fishermen, who play the “poor me” card, drive sports cars and luxury SUV’s on the money they’ve made ripping baby dolphins from their mothers and selling them around the world.  As Ric O’Barry found out when he investigated a history of Taiji at the local library, there were NO DOLPHIN DRIVE HUNTS BEFORE 1933, and they weren’t conducted on a regular basis until the 1970′s, when the growing demand for captive dolphins spurred the captures. The captured dolphins weren’t being killed for meat until the 1980′s.

But fortunately, on Tuesday morning, something somebody said to me on FaceBook shocked me out of my rage, and I collapsed in tears.  Good thing I have a compassionate dolphin-loving friend nearby, Cay, who listened to my story and gave me some counseling.  Here’s why: Japan is in the grips of an ultra-right-wing government, the Nationalists, who have allied themselves with the whale hunters and dolphin-killers.  The Nationalists claim this is all “traditional” brutality and besides, they say it’s no worse than what happens in a slaughterhouse.  As anybody who has seen the videos live streamed from the cove by Sea Shepherd, it is not only worse, it is much worse.

But even if it was done “humanely,” the killing of dolphins is unacceptable because they are self-aware beings, able to recognize themselves in a mirror.   Basically, to me, dolphins are people, capturing them is slavery and killing them is murder.  Next week, I am going to talk to a professional counselor about this mood disorder and what might be done about it.  Frankly, I frightened myself, and I don’t want a repeat of this to happen no matter what the provocation.  If you find you’re having similar thoughts to mine, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I will try to talk you out of it.