Friday, April 27, 2007

Dodgers on Demand? I think not.

Last Friday my cable went out. No biggie, I thought. I'll just call Time Warner Cable, my new and improved mandatory cable provider, and get them to fix it. It was about an hour before the Dodger game. This was the big home series with former skipper Jim Tracy and the Pittsburgh Pirates. I decided to stay in and avoid the new and improved mandatory parking lots at the stadium and enjoy my hot dogs and soda right in the comfort of my new and improved easy chair.

I was on hold for approximately thirty minutes and then a friendly voice answered. I told him the problem and he responded with an apologetic "I'm sorry sir that your cable is oooht". Oooht? I enquired if I had reached my Hollywood call center and the friendly man said "oooh no sir. You've reached Ottawa, Canada. We're the overflow for your local call center." "Can you fix the problem"? I asked. "ooh sir, I doohbt it". Great, ten minutes to game time and I'm talking to the home of the Senators, and I don't mean Washington.

Needless to say, my cable stayed "ooout" for a total of five consecutive days. I was relegated to the radio waves, where I heard the mellifluous, and certainly twilight, broadcasts of Vin Scully. But that is just a simulcast for only three innings on the radio. After that its the scintillating banter of Charlie Steiner and Rick Monday, enthusiastic announcers, but who couldn't carry Vinny's Dodger Dog.

The Dodgers pounded the Pirates Friday 9 to 1. I stayed on the phone with a supervisor who was convinced that my connections were loose (what else is new?). He had me squeeze behind my 500 pound armoir to check. Three hours, and one lumbago later, he admitted that it probably wasn't the connections. Fantastic! At least we got that straightened oouuuuut. I asked him to schedule a weekend appointment, but he told me none were available.

Saturday arrived. I phoned that morning to see if there were any cancellations at all. I spoke to a very nice African man who found an appointment between 1:00pm and 3:00pm Sunday. Woohoo! The Dodgers pulled out the game 7 to 3 on Russel Martin's grand salami. I felt like I was in 1942 and pictured Vinny, Charlie and Rick in the catbird seat. This radio thing ain’t bad. Later that night, "Dispatch" called me and confirmed the appointment for tomorrow. I was sitting pretty.

Sunday was a 1:00pm day game. Charlie and Rick were in rare form. The Dodgers lost 7-5. It was now 5:00pm and the technician had still not arrived. I phoned the company and a sweet young lady said that they had unilaterally changed my appointment to tomorrow morning at 10:00am. I asked why they hadn't phoned me and she profusely apologized, saying that they could offer me a $20.00 credit for my troubles. (Nobody knows the trouble I've seen). I accepted it and cleared my job for a few hours.

Monday came. The technician came an hour early, thank God. Better early than never I always say. He went through every nook and cranny, my cats hiding under the bed, and he couldn't find the problem. Suddenly, there were technicians throughout the building. Nobody had service, no cable, no Internet, no digital phone. He finally found the problem, a "maintenance" problem. Something was wrong with "the amp" and they would have a crew over in a jiffy. I was now Jonathan Pryce in Terry Gilliam's movie "Brazil".

The Dodgers were off that day. I had a panic attack Monday night and ended up in the Emergency Room at Kaiser, nothing new for me. By Tuesday morning a friendly "maintenance man" was working on the amp. I saw him fresh from the ER. I offered him a steak dinner if he could get the cable on. He smiled and took me up on the offer. The cable was on in less than thirty minutes. I opened my balcony screen door and yelled to him in my best Brooklyn accent "HEY, THANKS!". He looked up and said "I'll be back for supper".

Time Warner had done it, and in only five days! Thanks to them I was able to see Darth Bonds and his band of merry men whack the Dodgers from pillar to post that day. Vin Scully never looked so good.

Friday, April 20, 2007


Hi Angelica. Well, here we are. It is April 20, 2007. 4/20/07. That may seem rather benign to some people, but to me it has a significance. I will try and explain this as best as I can.

If you recall when I met you, after I left the stacks and went on my way, I returned with a copy of Carl Jung's book "Synchronicity: an acausal connecting principal". I briefly showed it to you as a kind of irony after our meeting, which I do consider a synchronicity or "meaningful coincidence". My reason for re-reading the book had to do with the life-long repetition of a number that continues to appear in unexpected ways. That number is 420.

The number has been a constant in my life, and the life of my late mother and grandmother. I was born at 4:20am on March 7, 1961. My grandmother died at 4:20pm about seven years ago. The number has appeared over and over again on clocks, license plates, marijuana cults or temples (Temple 420-pseudonym for Ganja) and always with a consistency. In other words, I will be doing fairly routine tasks and suddenly it will be 4:20pm. I realize that I haven't been aware of the clock at all and just happen to be passing it at...4:20. Or I will be driving and the CD will end at...420.

On a more sinister and creepy note, today is Hitler's birthday. And today is also the anniversary of the Columbine massacre that happened in Littleton, Colorado several years ago, grotesquely inspiring the recent situation at Virginia Tech no doubt.

So, this peculiar recurrence has baffled and intrigued me for years and years. In the Muslim tradition, they have a take on it that is extraordinarily cryptic and essentially evil. If you are under the influence of the number 420 you are in bad mojo indeed.

Once, when I was having dinner at a friends house, I broached the subject to them. I gave them the whole spiel and then laughingly suggested that maybe I was Hitler, the reincarnated Hitler, and that 420 is the hellish symbol of my eternal damnation. We all laughed, except his 13 month old daughter who was in her highchair. She was still non-verbal at the time but she looked up at me and shook her head and gasped the words "uh-huh", not "uh-uh" as in "no", but "uh-huh" as in "yes, you were that jackal and yes you are damned for eternity". At least that's how I perceived it in my, at that time, rather drug addled brain.

Paranoia, unfortunately, is a long term side effect of chronic drug and alcohol use, which I did for fifteen years. I am coming up on two years sober, which is not really that long of a time but IS as well, if you get my meaning. I know that during that period years ago I was under the influence of a very destructive and dark addiction. I will always have it, but I treat it on a daily basis and, gratefully, I have been willing to beat this thing, with the help of a higher power.

But the 420 number persists. Today, when I see it, I view it from a rather different perspective. I see it as heaven sending me a sign of the well-being of my life, of a universe that is paying attention and constantly sending me guidance. That, in fact, the number is being expressed through the souls of my deceased grandmother and mother and, more recently, my beloved cat Inky whom I shall always carry in my heart, who is with me always and has passed into the realm of the now, into my heart.

And so, on this rainy day, as I get ready to go into class before the weekend, I send you these tidings and blessings. You now have my birth date and time. I will go back and listen to the original astrology reading from lo those many moons ago. I hope to get your book in a day or two as it is in transit to my library in Los Feliz. Goddess Signs by Angelica Danton.

May you find your weekend pleasing and happy.

Much love,


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Time to get some happiness in here.

As I discontinue the pattern of self-destruction in my life and move closer to self-care on a daily basis, I am met with a new conundrum: how to get happy.

For some still inexplicable reason, I feel I do not deserve to be happy, that in fact happiness is for other people not for me. I don't really understand where this idea comes from. I like being happy. I really do. I think it has something to do with being weighted down by the disappointments of my life, the losses, the tragedies impinging on my ability to simply "be". When I mean "be" I mean the being-ness of my childhood. When I was a kid I was completely involved in the moment without concern for time. As time began to laden heavily on my mind, I began to distrust the present moment. I no longer wanted to be hurt, which required a hardened shell and a cynicism that could protect me from the chaos and changes inevitable in life. I began to shut down.

There are numerous schools of thoughts about where happiness resides. Does happiness reside in my mental affirmation of my self worth? Or does it lie in a more amorphous area, the area of my higher self? Is happiness, as Victor Frankl wrote in "Man's Search for Meaning", a by-product of right action and commitment? Is it "the space in-between" where the silence is? What, in fact, is happiness?

I am beginning the journey to find out. I think it's the right time to begin opening my self to this most precious gift. As Dennis Prager says "Happiness is a responsibility". Abraham Lincoln said "People tend to be as happy as they make up their minds to be". I think happiness is different than peace of mind. I think of happiness as peace of mind mixedwith fun. I am so in love with my tears though. Can I continue to feel and experience beauty and be happy? It seems as though I might be able to experience it more the happier I become.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Free to be, me and me.

I just watched Woody Allen's "Annie Hall" last night. It was probably the umpteenth time I've watched it. I saw it initially when it first came out, in 1975. I was in the ninth grade but absolutely relished it. I wanted to be Woody Allen in the worst possible way. I also watched "Network" this weekend. I hadn't seen that movie in years. It still holds up and is more prescient than ever.

What I wasn't prepared for was a brand new take on those movies. Granted, they are two of my favorite films. But this time I was transported to the realm of the personal. I had an astonishing and somewhat shattering realization. I have always wanted to be someone else. Whether it was James Bond, Al Dimeola, John Mclaughlin, Jorge Strunz, Woody Allen, William Shatner, Captain Kirk (they are actually different in my mind), Jaco Pastorious, Kirk Gibson-anyone but Anthony Forkush. This struck me like a club over the head. It was the strangest feeling. You see, there is no one I would rather be at this moment than myself. That is a double-edged sword as you might imagine. I have always wanted to be me, but have been terrified of being rejected for it. Well, here I am: ME, and I feel totally rejected! All my fears have been realized. I am me and we are me and he is me and on and on...

But the deepest part of the whole thing is that its okay to be rejected. It doesn't matter anymore if no one likes me the way I want everyone to. My cats love me. My God loves me. I love me. What more is there. Those who really love me, love me. And that's....okay. Truly, though, it is a sincerely radical place to be. I can't imagine wanting to be anyone other than myself. Yeah, I want what other people have, but I wouldn't want to be them. Maybe that is the miracle of sobriety. To be comfortable in my own skin means being okay being me. No matter what, its great to be me, even if I'm currently not getting any. You know what I mean?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Who is Sai?

9 June 1974
( Sathya Sai Speaks IX, 88-92)

[Editor's note. Swami talks about God, the religion of Love, and his Avathar-hood. He explains why he materializes rings, etc., and gives them to people, and he explains what "Sai Baba" means.]


God is inscrutable. He cannot be realized in the outer objective world; He is in the very heart of every being. Gemstones have to be sought deep underground; they do not float in mid air. Seek God in the depths of your self, not in tantalizing, kaleidoscopic nature. The body is granted to you for this high purpose; but, you are now misusing it, like the person who cooked his daily food in the gem-studded gold vase that came into his hands as an heirloom.

Man extols God as omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent, but, he ignores his Presence in himself! Of course, many venture to describe the attributes of God and proclaim Him to be such and such; but, these are but their own guesses and the reflections of their own predilections and preferences.

Who can affirm that God is this or thus? Who can affirm that God is not of this form or with this attribute? Each one can acquire from the vast expanse of the ocean only as much as can be contained in the vessel he carries to its shore. From that quantity, they can grasp but little of that immensity.

Each religion defines God within the limits it demarcates and then claims to have grasped Him. Like the seven blind men who spoke of the elephant as a pillar, a fan, a rope or a wall, because they contacted but a part and could not comprehend the entire animal, so too, religions speak of a part and assert that its vision is full and total.

Each religion forgets that God is all forms and all names, all attributes and all assertions. The religion of humanity is the sum and substance of all these partial faiths; for there is only one religion and that is the religion of Love. The various limbs of the elephant that seemed separate and distinct to the eye-less seekers of its truth were all fostered and activated by one single stream of blood; the various religions and faiths that feel separate and distinct are all fostered by a single stream of love.

The optical sense cannot visualize the truth. It gives only false and fogged information. For example, there are many who observe my actions and start declaring that my nature is such and such. They are unable to gauge the sanctity, the majesty, and the eternal reality that is me. The power of Sai is limitless; It manifests for ever. All forms of 'power' are resident in this Sai palm.

But those who profess to have understood me, the scholars, the yogis, the pundits, the jnanis, all of them are aware only of the least important, the casual external manifestation of an infinitesimal part of that power, namely, the "miracles"! They have not desired to contact the source of all power and all wisdom that is available here at Brindavan. They are satisfied when they secure a chance to exhibit their book-learning and parade their scholarship in vedic lore, not realizing that the person from whom the Vedas emanated is in the midst, for their sake. They even ask, in their pride, for a few more chances!

This has been the case in all ages. People may be very near (physically) to the Avathar, but they live out their lives unaware of their fortune; they exaggerate the role of miracles, which are as trivial, when compared to my glory and majesty, as a mosquito is in size and strength to the elephant upon which it squats. Therefore, when you speak about these 'miracles,' I laugh within myself out of pity that you allow yourself so easily to lose the precious awareness of my reality.

My power is immeasurable; My truth is inexplicable, unfathomable. I am announcing this about me, for the need has arisen. But what I am doing now is only the gift of a 'visiting card!' Let me tell you that emphatic declarations of the truth by Avathars were made so clearly and so unmistakably only by Krishna. In spite of the declaration, you will notice in the career of the same Krishna that he underwent defeat in his efforts and endeavors, on a few occasions; you must also note that those defeats too were part of the drama that he had planned and that he himself directed. For example, when many kings pleaded with him to avert the war with the Kauravas, he confessed that his mission to the Kaurava Court for ensuring peace had 'failed'! But, he had not willed that it should succeed! He had decided that war would be waged! His mission was intended to publish the greed and iniquity of the Kauravas and to condemn them before the whole world.

Now, I must tell you that, during this Sai Avathar, there is no place for even such 'drama' with scenes of failures and defeats! What I will, must take place; what I plan must succeed. I am Truth; and Truth has no need to hesitate, or fear, or bend.

'Willing' is superfluous for me. For my grace is ever available to devotees who have steady love and faith. Since I move freely among them, talking and singing, even intellectuals are unable to grasp my truth, my power, my glory, or my real task as Avathar. I can solve any problem however knotty. I am beyond the reach of the most intensive enquiry and the most meticulous measurement. Only those who have recognized my love and experienced that love can assert that they have glimpsed my reality. For the path of Love is the royal road that leads mankind to me.

Do not attempt to know me through the external eyes. When you go to a temple and stand before the image of God, you pray with closed eyes, don't you? Why? Because you feel that the inner eye of wisdom alone can reveal Him to you. Therefore, do not crave from me trivial material objects; but, crave for me, and you will be rewarded. Not that you should not receive whatever objects I give as sign of grace out of the fullness of Love.

I shall tell you why I give these rings, talismans, rosaries etc. It is to signalize the bond between me and those to whom they are given. When calamity befalls them, the article comes to me in a flash and returns in a flash taking from me the remedial grace of protection. That Grace is available to all who call on me in any name or form, not merely to those who wear these gifts. Love is the bond that wins grace.

Consider the meaning of the name Sai Baba. Sa means 'Divine'; ai or ayi means 'mother', and Baba means 'father'. The name indicates the divine mother and father, just as Sambasiva, which also means the divine mother and father. Your physical parents exhibit Love with a dose of selfishness; but, this Sai "mother and father" showers affection or reprimands only to lead you toward victory in the struggle for self-realization.

For this Sai has come in order to achieve the supreme task of uniting the entire mankind, as one family through the bond of brotherhood, of affirming and illumining the Atmic reality of each being in order to reveal the Divine thatis the basis on which the entire cosmos rests, and of instructing all to recognize the common divine heritage that binds man to man, so that man can rid himself of the animal, and rise into the Divine, which is his goal.

I am the embodiment of divine love; love is my instrument. There is no creature without love; the lowest loves itself, at least. And its self is God. So there are no atheists, though some might dislike Him or refuse Him, as malarial patients dislike sweets or diabetic patients refuse to have anything to do with sweets! Those who preen themselves as atheists will one day, when their illness is gone, relish God and revere Him.

I had to tell you so much about my truth, for I desire that you should contemplate on this and derive joy therefrom, so that you may be inspired to observe the disciplines laid down by me and progress toward the goal of self-realization, the realization of the Sai that shines in your hearts.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Om Sai Ram

May all beings reside in peace.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Obesity and the limits of a culture

Get fat. Get fat now. Be thin and then get real real fat. Take your time and just add on the pounds. Have a wonderful group of friends and watch them disappear exponentially to the degree of your plentiful girth. See the change in the level of love as each pound leaves the arena of the acceptable. Watch the phone ring less and less as the disgust of your loved ones becomes revulsion. Listen to their take on the healthiness of life in a loving kind and compassionate call for reductio abs absurdim. Notice how your co-workers start passing you by.

Try and be fat and have panic anxiety disorder. Watch the looks of others. What a strange look. It is such a strange look, that look. Try and function without your medication. See the funny people with the funny looks. See their funny looks become scared funny looks. Try to act normal to the funny people and see their funny funny scariness get more and more concerned, in a funny happy kind of way. Be nice to yourself and watch the funny funny mind tell you that it's not the system but YOU who aren't so funny without the good stuff that keeps you going in a funny way.

Call the good doctor and try and explain the silly willy loopiness that makes the funniness go away and worry that he may call the silly willy policman to tickle you in a white coat and poke you with the sharp shot that takes the blood from your silly little willy and have them take you in the zippy wippy wagon with the tippy whippy turns and honky wonky horns and big bright lights.

Be a normal person who acts funny wunny and hope that THEY won't notice even though they do notice but they just stay away because anything different is scary wary and not so funny wuddy and watch the calls go bybee bybee till only the TV/WeeV remains. That and the lovey dovies of my huggies from boobie woobies kitties.

Lifes a bowl of fucking cherries, right norm?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Payroll redux

Last Friday my payroll problems resumed. I awoke at an early hour, the usual 5:00am wake up call from hell. As I shuffled off the celestial movies and returned to my all too human cumber-body, I knew that today would be a make or break day. It was the road split in the center. It was payday. Two things could happen this day. One, I would get paid and all would be well with the universe. Two, I would not get paid, or get paid incorrectly, and the wrath of God and his righteous anger would split me asunder.

I decided to get right with him immediately. I figured if I did absolutely everything by the book that by the time I checked my bank account I would know the truth. HE would reward me with a flawless, perfectly resolved payroll resolution. Yes, that's it. I did everything the way I thought he would want me to. I even Daven for the deceased. I prayed ceaseless prayers for the meek and unfortunate, I meditated to Sai Baba for a good thirty to forty minutes, sans incense but with candles. I listened to my Deepak Chopra tapes and Marianne Williamson Cd's. I surrendered! There was no doubt that I had broken the curse of LAUSD and the BTS.

When I phoned the automated "Stellar Teller" system at my Aftra/Sag Federal Credit Union branch, I got the nice woman with the pleasing voice. I entered all the pertinent data and finally got to that mornings deposit. I waited, expectantly, for the wonderful information, with thoughts of zeroes bouncing in my head. "Hello, Mr. Forkush, you have...." Ah, here it is..."$800.00 deposited to your account".

Hmmm, let's see, 131 hours worked at $17.80 and hour works out to about...hmm...two thousand one hundred eleventy something. Eight hundred dollars...okay that's a...let's see...before taxes then deduct 403b and Cal Pers retirement and they deducted....ONE THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS BEFORE TAXES.

I was struck on the head by a brick falling from the proverbial ceiling. My face twitched violently and I coughed, rather heaved, a gasp of despair. "Wha Da Fug..."? I re-punched the numbers thinking there may have been multiple deposits. "$800.00 Mr. Forkush. Thank you. This has been a recording". My cat started to shit in the litter box and rip up the newspaper on the floor underneath it.

No. This can't be. Mustn't be. Shouldn't be. I prayed the prayer for the dead. I ate no fat, only lean. I surrounded the apartment with the Soundscapes channel from Time Warner Cable, the one with the gentle soporific sounds of the soul. All was well. I did "The Secret". I really believed. Didn't I? I did thought. Right?

As I began to experience the recent symptoms of anxiety that is grinding my life to a halt, I staggered to the kitchen to make coffee. My breathing became shallow, my heart rate escalated to tachycardia levels, the left side of my face became paralyzed and my legs weighed a ton. How can this be? Things can't get any worse. The stress can't get worse. I won't survive it. I am being crushed into pesto with no place to hide. Oh God, please help me, help me not to drink, or drug or....go completely insane, driven mad by intolerable panic anxiety symptoms that actually could be the early strains of a nuclear stroke or Myocardial Infarction.

Where's the Atavan. I need the Atavan. No, mustn't take it. Must get through this like all gentile people do. Gut it out, Tony. Take it like a man. Buck up old chum.

Thus began the day I will never forget. The day when the children of Cesar Chavez roamed the streets and the hills of Hollywood burned as a hundred disenfranchised employees of LAUSD and I sat in the rancid lobby of the Beaudry building waiting to get paid. As I sat in that lobby, I looked up and saw a trio of balloons wafting from the ceiling. On their front were the words "SEIU LOCAL 99: WE'RE ALWAYS THERE FOR YOU". I looked around. Not a single union rep ever showed up that ten hour day.

Next: "What's a Sonnet?"

What in God's name is happening to my body?

I have absolutely no idea what is happening to me. I keep having some of the weirdest, scariest physical symptoms I have ever had in my life. I'm not sure if they are related to anxiety, medication or some other non-diagnosed condition. I don't even know how to explain what they are. I'll try here.

For no explicable reason, I begin to experience a sensation inside my head. The sensation is not painful, just a feeling of pressure. I have had this pressure once before, about two years ago. It preceded a massive anxiety attack. This time,however, there is another component that is new. When the pressure begins to build, I feel a sensation inside my jaw and then, I'm not sure how to describe this, It feels like my nervous system has a glitch in it. I notice it at the level of my breathing. My breathing feels like it is taking on a life of its own. The difficulty seems to be in the area of nuero-motor. The breath feels like the autonomic nervous and respiratory systems are malfunctioning.

The question becomes do I go back to Kaiser and endure whatever endless series of tests they want to perform in order to tell me there is nothing wrong with me. So far that has been the case. It is starting to become more likely that I need to do so. Honestly, I suspect it is either anxiety and its concomitant and weird manifestations (some eerily similar to what my mother developed up to the end of her life), or that there is some interaction of chemicals going on that is affecting my functioning. My medications, for those who might be interested, are: Omeprizole (Prilosec) daily, Wellbutrin 150 mgs. daily, one aspirin, Nasarel spray (two sprays twice a day), two omega fish pills, one centrum. In the evening 2 more omega fish pills, 10 mgs Hytrin, daily. Since six weeks ago I have had to add two to three 1 mg tablets of Lorazapam (Atavan) as needed when my panic anxiety kicks in. This has been extremely regular since my cat died.

But I can never tell when these bizarre symptoms will manifest. They do seem to be brought on much more regularly by (surprise surprise) stress of any kind. The number one stressor is without a doubt my job. The close number two is my thinking. Together, they keep the wolves awake. I need to attack stress like a cancer at this point. Join a stress management class, take a swim, meditate and pray every day, turn it over, take the meds, have faith, ask for help, deal with the undealt with from my childhood, rest, eat well, watch less know the drill. All of these can help.

But I still need to take those dumb tests I think. I need to be gentle with myself and kind to myself during this time. This could also be big time grief.

I can do this. I can get through it. As my friend Mike Pascoe said in his recent e-mail "if God brings you to it he will bring you through it". Hallelujah.