Readers will recall my surprise encounter with Jesus last week while I was in the desert near Pearblossom visiting my friends Betty and Robert. Jesus talked to me about our "hidden senses," by which he meant senses other than the five we rely on- senses we either use but don't know we use, or repress altogether. In response to my incessant questions along the lines of, "But what does it all mean?", Jesus referred me to Maury Glickman, the next "Anointed One," he said, who lives under a freeway overpass in the Los Angeles suburb of Woodland Hills.
I felt I should charge my batteries before seeking Maury. I let a few days go by while I tried to find patterns in the news, material I could discuss with him. I detected a cycle in which the world media's focus shifts from one hotspot to another every three to four days. For instance, in a recent cycle it gave us three to four days each of race war in Charlottesville, followed by terrorist attacks in Spain, then Hurricane Harvey in Texas. The media follows this cycle and knows its meaning: If people look at the same thing for too long- even something fascinating like cars floating down the street- their neurons get fatigued and they need something new to look at. Time is about up for Hurricane Harvey- it needs to dissipate fast to make room for Disaster X!
This rumination suggested questions for Maury: Why do natural and manmade disasters so often fit the three to four day network-induced human attention span? Is the whole cosmos trying to get on prime-time? Is that because the cosmos is trying to exist, but it can exist only on prime-time, where, ironically, it can't exist at all?
Armed with these and other pointed questions, I felt I was ready for Maury. I woke my trusty 2007 Camry and we shoved off. After about an hour on freeways (the 14, the 5, the 405, the 101), I arrived at the Winnetka Blvd. offramp in the heart of Woodland Hills. A quick left took me through Maury's home, essentially a giant concrete exhaust accumulator and combustion engine echo chamber. I crossed Ventura Boulevard and parked at Ralph's, then walked back to the overpass. It was about 4:00pm. There was one homeless person on the sidewalk under the overpass on the west side, and two people, a man and a woman, on the east side. Crossing from Ralph's on the east I approached the man and woman first. She was maybe in her forties, with a missing tooth, a ragged pea coat wrapped around her waist and a tank top T-shirt revealing muscular shoulders, sinewy arms and lots of tattoos: tigers and dragons, a dreamboat-boy and a blade slicing a heart. She said, "What can I do for you, sonny?"
Her stocky male friend, who looked about 45, was enjoying the warm evening in a brown T-shirt with a faded Jimmy Hendrix logo. He had a crumpled paper bag with objects in it.
"Excuse me, I'm looking for Maury Glickman," I said.
They both laughed. She said, "That's the motherfucker over there!," pointing to the lone figure across the street.
The man said, "Mutherfucker'll fuck with your head, man!"
She said, "No shit! You'd best shut your ears!"
They continued to laugh as I walked to the corner and crossed the street. As for the figure that was Maury, I squinted and made out a man with long darkish hair, maybe in his fifties, surrounded by his personal items, seated crossed-legged on a rug on the sidewalk.
I approached him. From across the street came laughter and shouts of, "He'll fuck with your head, asshole!" Maury watched me with a faint smile.
I guess you were expecting me. Nice to meet you, Maury.
Same here. Have a seat.
Maury moved himself and his belongings and gestured for me to sit beside him on a square yard of rug.
So Maury, Jesus told me you are the next Anointed One. What's that about?
It's just show business; that's what people want.
They want an anointed one who will know things, who will have answers.
And that would be you?
Yeah, go figure. I don't know jack about shit.
We gazed across the street at the couple, who were watching me and making circular motions with their index fingers around their temples as if to ask, "Is he fucking with you yet?"
They are on my last nerve, Maury grumbled, with a malign stare at his tormentors.
Maury, tell me your story.
Well, it started here in Woodland Hills, where the semi-arid longs for the sea across the mountains, in the land that time and everything else forgot.
Great beginning, Maury! I can definitely see you as anointed!
Thanks. If you are from these parts you might remember Glickman Ford, not far from here on Ventura and Corbin.
Yours, huh? How was business?
I did well for years, then ran into trouble with bad investments and was hit hard in 2008. I sold everything and managed to salvage a comfortable retirement.
From across the street the woman yelled: Don't listen to that fucker!
Maury continued: All those years selling cars I was also doing advanced physics and cosmology in my head.
Why didn't you do that for a living, in a university?
There's more and easier money in cars, at least there used to be, leaving me time to think about things. I solved all kinds of classic riddles and paradoxes while I'd be talking to someone about their power steering or some shit.
Like what paradoxes? What's an example of something you solved?
Well, I solved the famous Card Paradox, where one side of a card says, "The statement on the other side of this card is true," and the other side says, "The statement on the other side of this card is false."
How did you solve that?
Easy. Who gives a shit!
Who cares what someone wrote on a card? What's that got to do with anything?
The Anointed One gazed dreamily at the mirthful couple, who continued to watch our doings.
So Maury, what did you do after retiring from business?
I sat around figuring things out. It drove my wife crazy. She would walk past, glance at me sitting on the couch with a certain look on my face and say things like, "Figuring things out again, Maury? Why don't you figure out how to unclog the garbage disposal?" Once she scolded me for putting the cheap silverware with the good, right after I had figured out the classic Fletcher's Paradox that has baffled the best minds for centuries.
What's the Fletcher's Paradox?
A fletcher, someone who makes arrows, starts thinking about an arrow flying through the air and realizes that the arrow can't actually move- in fact nothing can move. That's because at any one moment (whatever a moment is) the arrow is at one point only, so for the duration of that moment the arrow is in a fixed position; it is not moving. Therefore it is never moving.
Hmm. How did you resolve that?
What's to resolve? Nothing ever moves, but we see an animation of varying fixed points over time, which is an illusion. Not a problem: I FIGURED IT OUT!
This last outburst was aimed across the street at our fellow dispossessed, who continued their mirth unabated.
Maury, what do you care about them? Why are you here, anyway? I thought you were comfortably retired. Where's your wife?
Living in our old house. She was very upfront with me. I had to give it to her for eloquence. "Your problem, Maury," she'd say, "is that you have these brilliant, I mean, no shit Maury you have some fucking brilliant ideas! But here's the thing, Maury, you are on your own planet. Since you don't sell Fords you've stopped interacting. Let me be straight, Maury, I do not give a crap that you figured out fusion power, ok? Start a fucking company, sell the secret. Do something!
Maury sighed and continued: "Do something!" - She had a point. I had concluded that Bertrand Russell was right in his 1935 book, "In Praise of Idleness" that it is critical that humans stop doing things. That would include making things and thinking about things in ways that lead to changing things.
Should people stop doing everything? Should they stop having sex?
They should stop having babies. Sex itself burns calories and is harmless.
Would you say falling in love is harmless?
Harry, you sneaky wretch. Are we to debate every nuance in my comments? Are you jealous of me? Have you come to sit with me because you are my rival? Do you in fact desire to be the Anointed One?
No thanks! What is that, anyway?
It's a title- beyond that, if it gets me out of the house [gesturing at his surroundings] I'm down with it.
How did you get this gig? Did you interview with Betty the Coyote Creator Goddess?
It was a panel, her and Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster, Jesus and a few others. I heard about it in a dream. They wanted original thinking mammals, especially humans, who had figured out innovative ways to deal with humanity's latest implosion, but who needed some inside help to get their ideas out there. In my case, in return for endorsing human policy that is friendly, or at least not outright hostile to various "animal" and "divine" interests, I'll be promoted to the point where I end up the Anointed Savior or whatever.
Man! What will you do then?
I'll try to roll with it. Nobody better look behind the curtain.
You still haven't explained why you're living on the sidewalk.
Maury looked off into the distance of his mind, beyond the cackling couple across the street, to a place of logic and love.
You still have much to learn, Harry.
Like what? Why do you live on the street?