The Misery & The Ecstasy

August 2, 2014


About a certain Castro resident who calls himself Denzel (though I suspect not his real name): there are people in the Castro who despise me, to the point of scaring any new friends away from me. They are not beyond inflicting real harm. I am not imagining this, it has happened to me many times. Including poisoning and framing someone to go to jail. Can’t make friends in gay bars because there’ll always be some wicked queen who sabotages any new friendships I make. Larkin witnessed this in our first year together, at Hole in the Wall Saloon, and the Eagle Tavern. But he would give ’em hell and drive them away. I would be wary of any drink Denzel may offer you, as well as food. I trust you are not prey to such dirty tricks, and take good care of yourself. You are a good looking dude, and jealousy abounds whenever I befriend one such. I thought these trials were at an end, once Larkin moved into the Castro. But now he’s doing same. Though I’m sure it’s for a compassionate end, which I have already described to you. I will be friendly to Denzel whenever our paths cross…as I’ve always been. It is he who has chosen a wrongful path, nothing I’ve done to trigger it. As a healer yourself, I have confidence you will not get caught up in the anti-Zeke fiasco, and maybe even get Denzel to turn over a new leaf. Blessed be, Terence!


A Bit More About Denzel

Early last year I was dating a very sweet fellow who lives across the Bay. Met him at Cafe Mediterraneum, in Berkeley. His name is Jason. 43 years old, fabulously handsome, a genuine sweetheart, and had recovered from meth abuse five months prior. During that time, Denzel took a keen interest in me, though he’s always been very aloof before Jason’s arrival.

In fact, I’d find Denzel often stalking us from half-a-block distant, whenever we two strolled my neighborhood. Or we’d spot him across the street, staring me down. Quite weird, to say the least. He occupies a studio on the same block as myself (opposite side), and watches my comings and goings from a front window. Denzel has a reputation for bringing in cute homeless youth and sharing crystal with them, for purposes you can easily imagine. Jason wanted his bushy mane shaved down to sexy baldness, and I lacked an electric haircutter. Lo and behold, Denzel had such a gadget, and offered to pare Jason’s head into a clean Yul Brenner. I warned Jason about trusting the freak, but he said not to worry, he’s aware. And promised on the Bible he’ll never mess with tina again.

Jason looked very sexy as a bald dude, so I dressed him up in punk gear that made him look super adorable. During this time I had somewhat more association with Denzel, and all seemed copacetic. Even told him he’s welcome to invite Jason over now and then, especially since I can’t have him visit every night when he frequents SF, it’s too much stress for me, what with living in a humble SRO, and Jason’s boisterous camaraderie (which I appreciate immensely, though would have been far more amenable had I my own real apartment.)

Long story short: Jason succumbed to meth once more, and he rapidly deterioriated. Lost his subsidized rental, wound up back on the streets and, finally, in jail. Denzel is the kind of queer scumbag who doesn’t give a hoot about how his drug sharing impacts basically decent homeless young people who suffer great duress for various reasons. Many of whom are bipolar, for which speed is a dangerous substance to add to the mix. Now, were Jason an older man–say, 40 or more–it wouldn’t be such a tragedy. But to not give a fuk about a young man’s future, and only care about the brief thrill one might have via a dangerous chemical…is an egregious sin, IMO.

So I lost Jason for the indefinite future, but still must live in close proximity to that horrid little homunculous. And you, dear “new friend” have suddenly decided to buddy up with him and warn me not to stick my nose in your business. Therefore I must now suffer Denzel’s frequent presence once more, if I care to hang with you at either of the two gay bars that Larkin doesn’t frequent. Denzel’s not even particularly attractive: just a flaccid little runt with a few redeeming features…the greatest of which seems to be his access to certain drugs.

If you have any civility about you, I’d appreciate that you keep your visits with Denzel separate from our own. Nothing good will come of your association with him, I assure you. Best of luck to you, my psuedo-friend, may you live long and prosper.

And may you one day, grow up.

PS: Just so you know: I speak truth no matter what the risk. Even if it brings down upon me, further hostility from dumbasses looking for a fight. For I sincerely believe that standing up for gay homeless or disenfranchised folks is far more important than even my own comforts. This latest conflict is far from the first, since I’ve resided in the Castro. Furthermore: I have not lost a battle yet. If you think you can try me and win, you are a truly lost soul. And I pity your fate.

PS: Please do not accept unsealed drink or food from Denzel. Anyone who freely poisions vulnerable homeless dudes is not beyond such sins.

28 July

Saw Larkin today at Duboce Park around 1:45 PM. Sporting once more a haversack like my own red, square satchel, though his is slightly curved around the bottom with an overflap. Otherwise identical: black, wide shoulder strap and piping, same size. But when I first entered Duboce Park, I observed that Larkin was nowhere to be seen, on the main area where doggies run. So I concluded: “Nope, he’s not here today.”

But as I ambled along the walkway and turned into the path that curtailed the park’s further side, I suddenly found Larkin flipping a tennis ball alongside the thin, grassy strip that borders the rambling Edwardian mansion painted white. Later that day I concluded:

Larkin wanted to surprise me, thus situated himself on the outer edge of Duboce Park, that I would first assume he wasn’t present.

No sooner did I sit down to enjoy the view from barely four yards distant, than Larkin and doggie departed one minute later. As if Larkin waited beyond his schedule, because he knew how badly I needed to see him. His own brain seems to be in lockstep with mine, and he knows how to play it like a spinarette.

Also saw him three nights ago passing below my window. After hearing his voice bellow “Shame on you,” from about a half block away. (Don’t know what for, perhaps someone dropped his pants and flashed his butt, or something equally crude.) So I poked my head out the window to retort:

“Shame on you Larkin Kelsey, sucking on the wallets of lonely old queers! Zachary told me you don’t even open my letters, you just throw them away.”

Larkin then looked back in passing, with an expression that conveyed it’s not true, he reads everything I send. But he bit his tongue, looked ahead and proceeded down the block. I hounded further:

“Now what am I gonna do about that, buddy? I’ll think of something!” Well I did think of something (see below, regarding my note attached to a vehicle outside of The Cafe).

Last night I stumbled onto a Scooby-Doo movie (Scooby Doo 2 – Monsters Unleashed). Which is not just rare, but has never happened before (that I would accidentally flip to anything Scooby-Doo in the late evening or night). I believe it was Larkin’s telepathic regard that he loves me, seeing as he is a really big Scooby-Doo fan. Unfortunately, the digital reception for that channel was flaky, so I switched to another station. Though my gut feeling about Larkin’s manipulated scenarios is thus:

I’d rather be done with this convoluted, and often distressful, game, but Larkin insists in playing out the entirety of this script, which he so arduously composed over many years, just so he could finally play it out at this time. No way he’s gonna toss out his painfully crafted maneuvers, solely on a whim of mine.

29 July

Early this evening, I saw Larkin once again, schmoozing with two elderly lesbians standing by a bright red Ford economy van. (I pride myself in knowing nothing about cars, so can’t describe it any further…and my camera was stolen several weeks ago, so couldn’t take a snapsot.) He had his long arms about both of them, creating a circle of faux-camaraderie, though it sure fooled the two, gray-haired dykes! The heftier one declared to her partner (while Larkin curled an arm about her ripply waist):

“Larkin’s such a sweetheart, walked me to my car to see me home safely.”

At this point, Larkin raised his head from their focus, and looked in my direction, to see me 12 feet away and leaning against a storefront window…puffing on a Fortuna as if he and I were total strangers. Shortly, he escorted the duped ladies a few doors up and into The Cafe, where I’m sure they bought him many expensive drinks and even gifted him with one or more Jacksons. Meanwhile, I focused on the license number to memorize it. For what purpose, I wasn’t sure at the time.

But when I marched on hovel after Larkin and retinue departed for The Cafe, I kept speaking to myself: “8W94174, 8W94174, 8W94174” so that it stuck in my mind for a reason yet to be defined. Though when I arrived at my SRO, it finally occurred to This Miscreant Munchkin:

“Why of course. Print out a letter warning these dykes of Larkin’s devious nature, and leave it folded up in their van’s window…preferrably on the driver’s side facing traffic, that Larkin may have less of a chance to intercept, before She Who Drives can read it.”

So I sat down by my HP Elitebook and typed out the following message:

Vehicle license 8W94174:

Larkin Kelsey is not the sweetheart you think he is. He mooches off elderly bar patrons with fat wallets. That is how he survives. Hustles mostly old gay men who are lonely, but with money to spare. However, he is not shy of seducing lesbians as well. I actually have no problem with this, as he does not outright steal from anyone, gives them a really good bang for the buck. But what I do have a problem with, is that he drives anyone away who enjoys his company (and values his friendship), if he sees they’re getting too close to discover he’s a hustler…even if they don’t mind his situation, and would still like to maintain a good association. Such as myself, who he has maligned with vicious threats, humiliation and slander…and kicked me out of every bar in spite of my fidelity. He is very charismatic and talented, a great social mixer. And uses his gifts to dupe drunk bar patrons with generous wallets. He will charm you to pieces, to the point where you’ll find yourself handing him $20 bills like peanuts to an elephant. He is most likely also a drug dealer, as I don’t think he’d have been so wicked towards me, if being a soft-core hustler were his only gig. His “wingman” is housemate Zachary, who covers for his possible slip-ups…or one might call him his “patsy.” Zachary gives him cheap rental of a room at 2540 Market Street (don’t know yet the apartment number), in exchange for a cut of the moolah he sucks from patron’s billfolds. Larkin has threatened me with violence (shoved me twice), called me his stalker to everyone around, and overall tried to drive me insane. He is a very troubled man, as I have been nothing but a good friend to him for almost nine years. His sudden turn against me occurred after he moved from South of Market to the Castro. I have recently filed a police report against him. I advise you to keep your distance from this man, as he is not right in the head. Perhaps he has a brain tumor or early onset Alzheimer’s. I just pray to God he will make things up to me, but it’s been over a year and a half, now.

Then I eagerly returned to find the economy van still parked in the same spot. Folded the printout three times, inserted it deep into the driver’s window (between door and glass), leaving barely a half inch poking out. Hoping, of course, that Larkin does not intercept before she gets the chance to read it. Seeing as he’ll probably escort her back to the car, she just might hand it right over to Larkin in her state of inebriated trust. Boy, I wish I were a fly on the wall, to see all that! Well, let’s see if My Gangsta Gila has anything to say about this, next time our paths cross.

[ Please observe, Drupaceous Reader, that I did not reveal my name in this note, nor phone number, email, or address. Simply to spare me unwarrented vilification by brainwashed drunktards who are totally convinced that Larkin is the cat’s meow. Though should Larkin decide to involve the police, he can easily show them how readily this message interfaces with my letters posted to his mailbox. Unless of course, he’s tossed them into the trash as Zachary claimed. ]

Should he report me to the SFPD, it would be a mistake. For this would only open a can of worms that he could never close. And the label on this can says: “Kelsey’s Kondensed Horse Hockey.”

2 August

Yesterday, around 6:15 PM Larkin crossed my path at JW Plaza, to enter Twin Peaks Tavern. I figured he’d show up, as several minutes previous I saw Zachary hanging outside like a cigar store Indian, puffing on a nicotine stick. Interesting that–though I stood only ten feet away from the patsy, on the corner of Market & Castro appearing the unseasoned tourist–he projected nothing emotional in my direction. I wanted to fuk him just to teach him a lesson; not because he’s the least bit attractive, but to assert my alpha status as a punk extraordinaire…whose turf is the Castro, and my fiefdom.

I was but several feet from Larkin as he suddenly appeared in a bright yellow T-shirt (with floppy brown jacket bound about his waist) and entered the geriatric speakeasy. He did not acknowledge my presence one whit, nor did I acknowledge his. Yet I felt suddenly awash in a golden shower of angelic reverie. For that is how Dragon Squarepants always affects me, no matter his mood. Which these days is usually surly. Love holds enormous precedence in our association–albeit in brief doses–and shall never diminish. Our friendship is an eternal flame.

I then changed my post to the army-green trash bin on the eastern edge of the plaza and kitty-corner from Twin Peaks. Where I could obtain a more panoramic view of the tavern, that I may have the best advantage to view Larkin, no matter where he flitted. Zachary remained outside, even when Larkin exited the bar, accompanied by a slick-haired middle-aged doodle who no doubt considers himself an expert in day trading. He was a skosh roly-poly and less than 5-foot-9, sporting an oily coif pulled back in a knot.

They both shared a joint in the doorway of a closed shop, four
units down from TP Tavern, on 17th Street. But the Melvin departed
shortly to return to Twin Peaks while Larkin remained in the shadows,
sucking on his ganja pacifier. Finally he finished his share and moseyed
on back to TPT. I just stood by the wastebin, puffing on my ciggie
while drinking it all in. After some while (around 10 minutes) Larkin
departed the tavern and crossed right before me, yet behaved as if I
don’t exist. I likewise reciprocated.

From a safe distance, I followed Larkin to discover (as I already presumed) his ascent up the stairs to The Cafe, in order to play five or more rounds of billiards. I did not follow, but moved on towards Noe Street, where I could cross Market and return hovel. My heart wept so bad in my yearning to stand beside My Beastly Behomoth, whereby he may praise me to the heavens amid the presence of myriad dipwads.

Most interesting, his non-reaction to my slipping that revelatory note
in the Ford economy van just 4 days ago. Did my printout elude him, or did he intercept and pocket it? Did the lesbian lush actually read my advisory? (And if so, has she shown it to Larkin yet?) How will this play out in the long run: SFPD intrigue, lawsuit, gang rivalry? (Of course, first we’ll need to form two gangs, one pro-moi and the other, pro-Larkin.)

Perhaps he approves of my well-played retaliation, stirring up the muck that he may isolate the remaining cult vermin which still proves a threat on my life. Or maybe I’ve taken our battles to the next level: surreptitious backstabbing without any face-to-face showdowns as in the past. Whichever way the tide may turn, I remain astounded at Larkin’s precocity to compose a script in real life, that is the romantic comedy trilogy I have titled “Free Me From This Bond.”

Message to a Long Lost Friend

December 13, 2011

13 December 2011

My dear, handsome Witt:

Writing this letter today, to prove to you that I strongly sensed your wonderful return in my life was imminent. I’ve since printed it out, and kept it secure in a pocket, that I may hand it to you immediately upon our resurrected friendship, wherever and whenever that may be. Another way to say this is: “My angels told me to prepare for your return…and it will only be a few weeks at the most.” This makes me very happy.

Regardless of the ups and downs of our association, I have always admired and appreciated your friendship, as well as your survival skills living on four wheels, scavenging discarded furniture and other valuable detritus for resale at flea markets, and conjuring up delicious victuals out of dumpsters and trash cans. Those founders of the “Freegan Movement” have nothing on you! (In fact, I’m sure you could provide them with many useful tips! Glad you’ve finally found your own disciples, hey little grasshopper? You will be as God to them! You’ll have ’em eatin’ right outta your “Witt’s Outrageous 3 meats/3 Cheeses Mulligan Extra Special Gourmet Stew” hands! Surprise ’em with your utterly delectable vegan version. They’ll never know what hit their tongues, nor ever eat real flesh again.) I especially appreciate how difficult it is in your wanderlust existence–keeping afloat by cunning alone–to accommodate me (or anyone) as your guest, in a renovated bread truck that is your home.

I understand that many years back, you had asked a certain person on the street named Brian (about 6 feet tall, dishwater blonde straight hair, rather ordinary but wide bovine face), if I was still living at 2306 Market. He said to you, “No, he’s not.” Brian’s an idiot, not a real friend…he only knows me a bit from our occasional encounters in the Castro. I never liked him, and am sorry that he misled you. To his credit however, he did approach me about six years ago, and told me you asked about my whereabouts.

Brian said he told you that I was no longer living there (’cause he couldn’t really believe I was, after all those years). He apologized for the misinformation…for the truth is, yes, I still live in that rotten little room in which we shared some rather hellacious good times. As I said, Brian is an idiot. He is a pathetic pinhead who hails from Utah, and decided one day to leave Ogden and never look back (or he’d turn into a pillar of Salt Lake City. He’s still here in SF by the way, looking old and haggard; I wish he’d move back to Moron Land. Get it? “Moron, Mormon”. Ha-ha. How about Morton’s Salt Mines? Ha-ha to the “nth” power.Take my wife…please!) In other words, he’s just a stupid sheeple whom you really should never have relied on, for any information about myself.

Be that as it may, our time apart–though many years at this point (since 1989 I think)–has only made me appreciate you more, with time’s slow passage. We are friends, Witt, real friends. And I’m sorry if any of my own insecurities and neuroses made you hesitate to explore our friendship further, and caused you to be overly careful in continuing what to me, has always been a marvelous adventure.

I realize how difficult it is living out of a truck, and coming to SF to hang with me…considering how Fascist this city has become, and outright hostile to free spirits like yourself, who prefer not to be tied down to renting a unit and becoming frozen for years–perhaps the rest of your lifetime–in the same tiny habitat. I respect and admire your sense of adventure and freedom on the open road. Though I know such a lifestyle is not without hardship, considering how screwed up America has become, in regards to any citizen who chooses to live an alternative lifestyle. (Ironic, eh, considering the 60’s and all that.)

This letter is dragging out, please bear with me, as my angels guide me in how to tell you with what great import and joy i regard your friendship. I have missed you very much, and thought of you every few months or so, with great concern and wishes for your happiness, and hopefully even resuming our friendship where it becomes so much more fun and loving than it’s ever been. Several years back, I even rode my bike out by the Berkeley Marina,

stopping on the way by that roadside bistro where you once parked in the adjoining lot, to celebrate an evening under the stars, by the sand dunes…all three of us. But there was no Witt, no sand dunes any more, and no starry sky. (Yes, sometimes your spirit does call to me, and I know it’s real. And you’re calling to me once more, and thus, this letter.)

FYI, one of the really neat things about you, is you never mess with drugs or alcohol. (Sure wish you’d smoke some killer ganja with me now and then, though!) And your fantastic little dog Wiley…the dingo of bountiful joy and affection named after a Looney Tunes character. It must’ve been one of the worst days in your life, when you lost your quadrupedal buddie to K-9 Heaven. But I’m sure his ebullient little spirit is with you once more, in the vessel of another frisky pup.

Excuse me for being so forward, but I am now 61 years old, which affords me little time for shy innuendos. I love you (and always have; you’re quite the hot dude), and find you to be a most gorgeous and sexy man, with an incredible sense of adventure and “bromance”.

I would be terribly happy just to resume our friendship without anything “risque” going on. But just in case, I figured it would be wise at this point in our lives, to break the ice. I just wish my room were all fixed up real nice and cozy for your return. But alas, it’s still rather a mess since my breakup with another sweet friend, Johnny S., three years ago due to his heroine addiction and father’s sudden death. I don’t know, but I must be the King of Bromance, the list goes on and on and on!

I have spent many lonely years since you disappeared from my life. My old friend John H. moved to Philadelphia in 1996, and my on-and-off “friend” Michael Carl B. died last year in October. (And good riddance to that, I say; he was a nasty old man that hated the devil out of you, and interfered in my life constantly, in most hostile ways.) I do not deserve this, but I must accept that this is my particular path that our creator has chosen, to shape my soul into the best possible person I could be. Nonetheless, I’ve missed you terribly.

The fact of your return only gives me cause for celebration. For it could never have happened if the angels did not see fit to bring us back together. I certainly do not claim to understand the mysteries behind this, but I do have some comprehension of the ways of the Great Spirit.

Now, we are back together again after so many difficult and lonely years. I only ask that you put enough faith in our friendship, to never fear that I would ever want you out of my life. I am sorry that you had doubts about this. I am sorry that dipwad Brian misled you. I also realize that my remaining in the same building as your friend Maxie (and on the same floor, where we even shared a bathroom), may be difficult for you, considering he died from a heroine overdose way, way back in 1987 or so; I really can’t recall the exact year.

Unbelievable to realize that (since Mr. Betza’s most welcome death) I am now the longest-term resident of 2306 (I really don’t want to die here, and become yet one more ghost of Dolores Street Apartments…not when three of the most disgusting people I’ve ever met, also died here, and made my life miserable for a time!) But I am so happy to realize now that you are my hero and good friend, and will rescue me from such a sad demise.

I am more than ready to pack up my few belongings (that would be my netbook, extension cord and a backpack…whenever we pop into a wifi coffeehouse I’ll download some great movies and TV shows we can watch later while holed up in your van overnight), and join you on the Road to Great Adventures. Or, if you’d like, we can keep my room as a convenient rest stop between breaks from our silly highway escapades. Wash the dust off, kick back and enjoy the few good things this cheapskate, backwater, skanky little burg has to offer. (Okay, pardner? Another way to go with this, is to surrender my SRO, thereby freeing up an extra $310 that might be better spent, perhaps on truck maintenance, or doggie care.)

There number about eight fantastically gorgeous and wonderful men I have had the great honor to know over many years (starting in 1969 where I met my first true love Robert Matthew Childers in Columbia, Missouri), share some great times (and fall in love) with, and wished for something more permanent than a few years’ togetherness, then *poof* they’re gone forever, like it was all just a fantastic dream.

You are definitely one of these excellent men. I even wrote an Ice Age Bromance about us, called “Dream on: Encounter with a Neanderthal“. You are also the cop-centurion “DeWitt” in my testosterone inspired homo sci-fi tale, “The Mask of Horus“. Who knows? You might even be the “Pa” in my animated decal “Padonna & Child“. If so, it was subliminally inspired. But now that I think about it, Pa does look suspiciously like you, in that he likewise has your bulky, broad-shouldered stature (though you’re certainly not hairy or bald like this Pa, but I suspect you want to be incognito in the animated gif, perhaps to surprise me years later, such as this very moment).

I love you Witt, and am so incredibly happy to see you again. Let’s kick some ass and have a hell of a good time. You, me, and your little pup Wily III (or perhaps IV or even V by now).

Love, friendship, and sincerest regards,

Zeke a.k.a. Gene

PS: I legally changed my name to “Ezekiel Krahlin,” back in 1996…but please feel free to continue to call me “Gene Catalano.” if that is your pleasure. I did it only to spiritually divorce myself from my blood family; they don’t deserve me. I have never forgotten that cold, starry night when you pulled up across the street late in the wee dark hours, and hollered through a loudspeaker so robustly as to wake up the dead: “Catalano! You awake?” I nearly pooped my pajamas…people heard you more than two blocks away! God bless you, Witt. (John H., you were still living there 2 stories up in 404, you remember that night.)

Let The Games Begin

August 30, 2010

Click here to play video

Quoting “seanofmiami”:

{{ He sounds terribly dry. Most attorneys will announce who and what they are. }}

Know what? You’re right.

{{ A private investigator would be more covert. }}


{{ This guy could be on a fishing expedition. Maybe not an attorney, but a scam artist investment peddler. }}

Always a possibility…but it is quite rare I get such calls. I got one for life insurance over two years ago, and that’s it.

{{ We’re probably reading too much into this. His tone of voice is not that sophisticated. He could simply be someone browsing your site or reading the bar. The question is, how did he get your number? }}

I’m thinking it’s a friend of Akbar’s brother.

Or: someone from a Linux group, which I have recently condemned for their elitism, specifically that from “Rich Monkey” (but not exclusively). Will soon make my third, and final, salvo very soon. It will also be the strongest.

Well, nothing else has occurred, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

I’m enjoying Berkeley once more, after having been away for over a month. Au Coquelot, dining on a blueberry scone and a glass o’ English Breakfast tea. F*ck the geeks…I’m better off w/o ’em, they’ve sold out too, they’re mostly snotty Libertarians.

But I nonetheless still love Berkeley, and they can’t take that away from me! The Spirit strives on! Just got a bunch of used computer games from Half Price Books…now I need to find and download the cheat sheets. The games are:

Legacy Dark Shadows, Reverse the Curse! Ankh, The New Adventures of the Time Machine, Walking with Dinosaurs, and Penumbra Overture (whatever that is, says “ enticingly eerie horror game”; I’m scared already).

BTW, there’s now a Peet’s Coffee underground at the Shattuck Station. Don’t know if I can keep up with all these changes! :P

Seek The Wisdom Of Our Elder Geeks

March 18, 2010

Cartoon image of middle aged geeky superman.

I think what needs to be acknowledged, is Open Source’s emergence from an earlier movement that was largely composed of renegade, left-wing, anti-establishment types. Since then, obviously this movement has expanded to include the mainstream corporate community. And from what I’ve just studied regarding this history, Open Source Software (OSS) established itself as separate from Free Software (FS), to assert a growing membership of business entrepreneurs and corporate interest. And this has come with considerable antagonism and upset from the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and related groups.

So of course, you are going to have the occasional clash between the two camps. However, newer members of OSS should not be surprised at all, when some participants reflect more of the original ideals of the FSF, including distaste towards the status quo, which of course includes the corporate world…as well as Republicans, Libertarians, and other right-leaning types. So whether one likes it or not, this *is* the history of Linux/FS, from which OSS sprung (or broke off, depending on whom you ask). This needs to be underlined (using Open Source loosely, to include *both* OSS and FS):

Open Source is *not* Google, as some would have us believe. Open Source is *bigger* than Google. In fact, it’s even *bigger* than all corporate entities of our struggling planet put together! In short: Open Source is *bigger* than capitalism!

In order to grow into a diverse group, you need to acknowledge that aspect of our origins. Ergo, do *not* expect every single member to be excited about the corporate aspect of OSS, and application of Linux to facilitate capitalist goals. Just so you know: in spite of this ideological rift, FS and OSS advocates do come together on various projects, when the purpose matches the ideals of the more liberal camp.

Be that as it may, Berkeley-LUG remains a very small group, for which such a low number could not possibly reflect much diversity. But as it grows under Jack’s leadership, please be aware that you will acquire more participants of a left-wing stripe, besides myself. That is: unless you allow pro-business peer pressure to drive them away.

Cartoon of angry OSS beans ganging up on one FS bean.

When I first joined, it was under the umbrella of Linux advocacy/Free Software. Some time later, Jack stated his wish to use the term “Open Source” in order to form a broader base of interest. Fine with me, however I was not yet aware of the serious ideological *rift* between the FSF and OSS communities. Only when I decided to learn more about how the term “Open Source” came to be, did I understand.

It is my impression that many of the newer advocates to OSS, are not aware of this ideological clash, and therefore blithely assume (as I had) that “Open Source Software” was simply a term to broaden our community of Linux and Free Software advocates. I have only recently learned: that is most definitely *not* the case. It will be a challenge to incorporate members of such opposed camps, but knowing your good character, I believe you are more than up to it. The payoff will be incredible, both personally and communally.

Now, while I am made to feel *alone* in my perspective, I realize that is far from the reality. *Many* anti-corporate Linux advocates live and thrive in Berkeley and surrounding regions. In fact, I am talking about our *pioneers* of FS, GNU, and open advocacy…all free and accessible to even the financially strapped: such is the *intent* of these forefathers. Allow me to employ the title “Elder Geeks” to these most generous and intelligent souls…both male and female, queer and hetero, and politically/socially progressive. BUT most definitely *not* Republican or right-wing, or even conservative (except perhaps if you include certain moderates in that circle).

These Elder Geeks tend to be largely anti-corporate, and frown on this latest phenomenon of the business world, where FS/OSS is utilized to build their monied empires. At least, this has been my observance over the years, of what Elder Geeks promote and practice. Granted, they may not project such a political *bias* as I do…just the same, they harbor distaste for the corporatization of things Linux. Which distaste may be enunciated w/o any sort of politics in mind.

These Elder Geeks are pioneers of programming, hacking, and free and generous sharing of their sofware and knowledge…to *anyone* who makes even half an effort to listen carefully, RTFM, and apply this knowledge to the real world (of cyberspace) effectively. So before you run off with fantasies of fat wallets dancing around your gifted cranium…give a thought to our Elder Geeks, and consider that perhaps (just perhaps) they have a *valid* reason for their distaste, outside of my own sharply political reasons for criticising Google, Red Hat, Sun, Oracle, et al.

It does not become such obviously talented minds to maintain willful ignorance of our history and OSS origins, and thus isolate and trivialize those not hell-bent on turning Linux into a financial Gold Rush.

Photo of tiny Linux penguin in a gold digger's pan.

Does it really benefit your education, to ignore the wisdom of our Elder Geeks, by never learning from them, exactly *why* they refuse to ride the corporate bandwagon? Do you really think that all their brilliant contributions that literally *created* and *shaped* this marvelous world of Free & Open Software you now enjoy, did not spring from a beloved philosophy *outside* the corporate empire?

I invite you to one of our Elder Geek gatherings, to kindly ask them their opinions about using FS/OSS in the corporate environment. Ask them their viewpoints on lucrative companies that utilize FS/OSS (including free operating systems), such as Google and Red Hat. Are there any for-profit agencies using FS or OSS, that they favor? Where should we draw the line between earning a living, and using Free/Open programs to earn that living?

Assuming you approach them with genuine interest and respectful regard (and knowing your character somewhat, I see no reason why you wouldn’t), they most likely will *not* chase you out of the room. :P

I’m certain they will be most pleased that younger OSS advocates even care to ask. So come to our next BUUG meeting, or the one after that, and learn valuable perspectives of our Linux Pioneers, what sorts of philosophies inspire them, and what their opposing views may be, regarding this latest evolution of OSS into the world of Wall Street.

Most sincerely,

Digital signature.

Ezekiel J. Krahlin
Old-school advocate of Free Software

Photo of huddling baby penguins.

Open Source Can Do No Harm

March 10, 2010

I'm innocent I tells ya!

Note: Acronyms “FOSS” and “OSS” scattered herein essentially mean the same thing: “[free &] open source software”. There’s also FLOSS: “free/libre open source software”. And OS by itself, means “operating system”. And finally: Each illustration conceals a link to additional info.

Quoting goosbears:

AAMOF, Rick Moen wrote a wildly relevant essay entitled ‘INOLJ-OOW2.0C (Is Not On LiveJournal Or Other Web 2.0 Cults)’. Have Zeke K, Grant B, Larry C, and/or others of you heard of Rick or actually met him?

Yes indeed, and thanks for the link to one of Rick’s most informative essays, with which I fully agree. When I founded BUUG (Berkeley Unix User Group) in January 2000, Rick was one of the earlier participants. I have also had a number of thought-provoking and enjoyable e-mail conversations with Rick, on and off over the years. His linuxmafia site includes a page with links to his plentiful and most fascinating articles…dare I call him a “Unix philosopher”?

I’m definitely old-school re. open source and Linux, hence anti-coporate and anti-capitalist. So, Linux users such as myself, cringe over corporate hegemony, and do not necessarily see the business model as something worthy of adulation, let alone seeing the inclusion of Linux in the business world as a “success”. We are a nation that worships the almighty dollar, hence seeks to translate *anything* of value into profit. I see capitalism as ultimately, a failure, and therefore seek to promote goals that benefit humanity’s lot in life, over and above any sort of profit incentive.

Of course, there is some overlap, when you have companies treating their employees with respect and financial responsibility, such as Google and Red Hat. Though unfortunately, they are far the exception than the rule…as so sadly realized in our current economic downturn, which threatens to become the next worldwide depression, worse than the previous one. Now, *that’s* scary!

Video: The Next Great Depression

Do you Yahoo?

For me, Linux is one main answer to the computer jigsaw puzzle, in fostering a more peaceful, and less violent world…violence of which the greed for wealth is a formidable instigator. I do admire Mark Shuttleworth‘s lofty goal to provide a powerful operating system to even the poorest on this planet. For the same reason, I admire the OLPC project (One Laptop Per Child), originating out of an M.I.T. think tank. Amusingly, before I even heard of OLPC, I wrote a sci-fi fantasy piece about an uber-wealthy male who decides to give a laptop to every destitute child in the world. As it turns out, I wrote my piece several months after the OLPC project was announced to the public:

Parable of the Laptop Billionaire

(And I think that *most* Linux advocates would agree with me, it’s a real shame that OLPC eventually felt compelled to install Windoze alongside its own OSS version of Linux.)

Obviously, open source and Linux have matured tremendously in the last decade or so…and no longer can I simply assume that because they sprang from progressive and anti-capitalist ideals, they will always remain so. Now, we have a wide array of contributors, advocates, and even abusers. Republicans, Libertarians, Nazis and racists all use open source to achieve their ends (their web sites are everywhere; and I’m sure they use open source applications to enhance their pages with message boards, forums, chat rooms, surveys and the like), as do Democrats, Socialists, Green Partiers and the NAACP. And all shades between.

Therefore, if one is of a progressive or left-wing bent, one can no longer blindly support everything and anything that is open source. One must carefully discern each case in use, especially when speaking about corporations, government, organized religion, and the military (for examples). As for the philosophy of open source and free software, may I refer you to Richard Stallman’s “Why Open Source misses the point of Free Software“…and make it clear to my readers that I stand firmly in line with the free software advocates, as opposed to open source. Here’s an excerpt:

The main initial motivation of those who split off the open source camp from the free software movement was that the ethical ideas of “free software” made some people uneasy. That’s true: raising ethical issues such as freedom, talking about responsibilities as well as convenience, is asking people to think about things they might prefer to ignore, such as whether their conduct is ethical. This can trigger discomfort, and some people may simply close their minds to it. It does not follow that we ought to stop talking about these issues.

That is, however, what the leaders of open source decided to do. They figured that by keeping quiet about ethics and freedom, and talking only about the immediate practical benefits of certain free software, they might be able to “sell” the software more effectively to certain users, especially business….

As the advocates of open source draw new users into our community, we free software activists must shoulder the task of bringing the issue of freedom to their attention.

I am certain there is now a growing body of open source specifically geared towards the sabotage of a minority’s civil rights, for example; or towards the ruthless elimination of creative small businesses perceived as competition (another example, thinking here in the history-of-Microsoft mode).

Military use of open source

Open Source Marines?

Ergo, I make my official stand through this article, of my support *for* Linux and all open source that is used to assist, promote, and improve the human condition…and *against* its use to aid and abet financial greed and destructive ideologies.

Of which I include Libertarianism BTW, and which I see as a rapidly increasing threat to all humanity — global fascism if you will. Please read:

Ayn Rand, Hugely Popular Author and Inspiration to Right-Wing Leaders, Was a Big Admirer of Serial Killer

In fact, there were a number of Libertarians who helped me found BUUG..much to my dismay. (A main reason for my starting this group, was I felt lonely among a growing population of right-wing zealots, so assumed that forming a Linux group would attract liberal types. Times have sure changed! I predict that some day soon, we’ll see bumper stickers with slogan: “I hack for Jesus”. Maybe they’re already out there; I’ve never owned a car, so I don’t know.)

Discouraged by this, I quietly discontinued my participation after a year or so (with the feigned excuse of “family obligations”). Glad to say that I am back, and BUUG is more balanced ideologically, that is: with a good number of soundly progressive Linux and Unix advocates.

Berkeley Linux User Group is still a very young organization, and will take some years to expand and, hopefully, increase in diversity. But if I find that the membership is largely influenced by Libertarian advocates, I will be compelled to drop out, as the last thing I want is to support such cold-hearted dogma.

There also seems to be a cult-like tendency of some open source advocates, to never say anything bad about OSS, or its application. Else you will be labeled as “traitor” (or “counterproductive” or “spreading FUD” in my case). This ideology that open source can do no harm, is indeed a cultish attitude. Because all that open source is, is software whose code is free to view and alter, and often widely distributed at no cost. There is no rule of OSS that prohibits fascists, Nazis, or racists (for examples) from creating their own free programs. (Godwin’s Law be damned, I say!) Here’s your quote of the decade (by yours truly of course):

No longer can one blindly dive into the open source pool and assume with unquestioned confidence, that no sharks are about.

The toxic jaws of capitalism

FLOSS my teeth please?

So, open source advocates such as Berkeley-LUG can choose to become a cabal of Libertarian zealots (as seems to be the tendency of all OSS gatherings, these days), or expand into a diversity of members who share the common interest of open source, and advocate its use as a tool of compassion, rather than profit as their god. I specifically say “Libertarian” in lieu of other nihilistic credos, precisely because this is the main threat looming over the open source community. That is: the worship of corporate entities, rather than simply including them as but one slice of the OSS pie.

Regarding Larry C., the “Free Software Guy“:

Preaching the gospel of free software” exclaims his home page, at top. Now, I know his blurb was writ in good humor…nonetheless, there is a sort of zealotry sprouting from certain members of open source which attempts to unfairly censor others in that same community. This is mainly the ideology of Libertarianism, which habitually mocks and suppresses viewpoints from the old-school camp of liberals and progressives (who have these ridiculous notions of universal health care, living wage for all, and job protection…Ford have mercy!).

I have to cite Mr. C. as a living example of one who makes snap judgments against whistle blowers within the OSS community, precisely because he has found a personally rewarding (and dare I say, “profitable”) niche, and therefore great incentive to espouse the “open source can do no harm” ideology. This is not to say he is absolutely a hardcore Libertarian or Vulture Capitalist, but that he is likely influenced by such persuasions, as implied by his kneejerk attempt to squelch my particular voice, despite my strong record as an advocate of free and open software, especially Linux.

For the record, besides founding the Berkeley Unix User Group (a very social gathering BTW, per my intent), I’d like to point my readers to my two most recent online contributions towards open source and freeware:

Best PC security…at $0.00

That blog entry BTW, was my last contribution to the Windoze community, before I shut the door completely on Micro$oft products. In that essay, I show 100% free solutions to highly effective security and safety of one’s computer…for those who use a Windoze operating system. Originally posted February 2, 2009, it remains a solid piece of support.

My Letter to Ray Taliaferro

Posted Septermber 22, 2009, it is an e-mail supporting Mr. Taliaferro’s outrage against the expense and constant annoyances of Windoze seurity products, such as Norton. (Taliaferro is one of the most popular liberal radio talk show hosts in the country, been around for years.) I encouraged him to consider using a Linux OS, Ubuntu, and even invited him to our meetings at BUUG or Berkeley-LUG. Amazingly, he actually read my letter in full, on his next show…unfortunately, I didn’t stay up late to listen that night, and missed it. A neighbor called me the following morn, to relate the good news.

I have contributed numerous useful ideas and essays on behalf of free software and Internet democracy, since I first began BBS’ing way way back in 1984…including an original approach towards protecting your system from viruses and most other malware…in preparation for when this problem would take off. I was extensively quoted in 1988 by a technical journal called “Micro Cornuopia” now long defunct:

I have also created what is probably the first (and still only) full-blown ANSI animation story, “SallyJones”. Download it here, about the first truly intelligent, free-willed robot, in the image of a little, multi-racial girl:

(You need to run it in a DOS box or window.)

In case anyone would be interested in learning more about my viewpoints (political, social, etc.), I’ve kept an extensive record of my Usenet participation from 1997 to 2009:

Spilling My Guts All Over Cyberspace

Out of respect for Jack D., founder of Berkeley Linux User Group, I’ve posted my reply in the form of a blog entry, instead of the usual mailing list. This is because he prefers to keep politics, for the most part, out of his Linux advocacy group. But people are political animals, and Linux is right in the bullseye of the culture war between progressive and right-wing ideologues…thus it is inevitable that from time to time, strongly political issues will arise. And that’s not a bad thing; it is in large part, philisophical pondering about the influences of open source, and forming a new consensus about which direction(s) it should take.

Philosophy of the GNU Project

No GNU ideas.

And since any number of Berkeley-LUG participants frequently makes (what I perceive as) naive or simplistic statements with the assumption that no one differs in their viewpoints, I feel compelled to toss in the FLOSS ring, my own two cents. For example, this statement:

I have nothing to hide, so I don’t care if Google gathers information about my online activities.

That statement is so naive and without a moment’s introspection, I don’t know where to begin. (Wait a minute, yes I do: I began with the first line of this essay!) I found the video in question “The Cost of Free” provides an excellent analysis of why one *should* care about Google’s user database, as but one example of many companies’ accumulation and potential misuse or abuse of this information. Where even a harmless error or glitch in such databases can wreak devastating harm on a most personal and intimate level. What you don’t think you have to hide, may work against your best interests somewhere down the line, such as health status, or political opinion that may wind up destroying your career, or prevent you from getting employment, health care, or admission into the school of your choice. In a nutshell:

If you really don’t care what personal data is being gathered about you, and by whom, then why don’t you live in a glass house or, at least, keep the drapes swept aside, that all may view you 24/7?

Now, Google’s slogan “Do no harm” I find rather alarming. (Sorry to pick on Google so much, I know some are happily employed there, with excellent benefits and salary, but they are a big player in open source, and thus smack dab on the radar. No doubt there will soon be a Godwin’s Law against citing Google, like we have for any mention of Nazis…oops there I go again.) I become immediately suspicious of any corporation that uses slogan’s like “Do no harm“…it’s like saying “We are perfect, we can never do any wrong.” Such an attitude is hubris, and smacks of ideological pandering, similar to a *cult*. (Reminds me of the Hippocratic Oath: comforting are the words, but how many doctors or clinics genuinely *practice* this ideal, that is: forego obscene profit in order to heal the poor?)

Actions speak louder than words,” goes the old saw, and I’d say that, in Google’s case, this doubly applies. What is Google’s record in this matter of doing no harm? Not very good, I conclude. The following site, Google Watch, serves as Google whistleblower, and will inform you of their dark side. They include topics such as “Google’s book grab,” “Big Brother is well-connected,” “Mozilla evades taxes,” “Is Google God?” and “Creepy Gmail”.

But Google is just one among countless examples of the corporatization of open source. I for one, refuse to toe the corporate shtick, as it wants to be adulated as your real family, replacing true communities with Libertarian schemes where the almighty dollar reigns over all other considerations. There are some good things about Google of course, such as excellent employee packages…but should this excuse them from abuses which are widespread and destructive to our personal lives, and what remains of true community? Does any of the good they do outweigh the bad (such as their cooperation with China’s draconic censorship laws)? I leave it to each of you, to reach your own conclusion. Good luck!

Yours most truly,

Ezekiel (I couldn’t hack my way out of a virtual paper bag ) J. Krahlin

When using open source makes you an enemy of the state

Addendum March 14 2010: Liz at today’s Berkeley-LUG meeting kindly corrected me re. Google’s motto. It’s “Don’t be evil”, not “Do No Harm”. But I believe my point’s still valid, regardless of this minor faux pas. Cheers!

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